When news arrived yesterday that Susanne Bier‘s long awaited “Serena” had finally landed a stateside release date, it came with the claim from one anonymous buyer that “the film was so edited, it made no sense.” So, of course, Magnolia Pictures and director Susanne Bier had to respond to that claim. And the first issue to get out of the way is why the film, shot all the way back in 2012, took so long to get completed.
“Once it finished shooting we’ve all been busy,” Bier told Thompson On Hollywood at TIFF, where the movie had apparently been invited (but none of the cast were available to come). “I’ve been doing another film [‘A Second Chance‘]. [Bradley] Cooper and Lawrence were super-busy, just doing the [post-production sound recording] has been tricky. She had only one day off in two years!”
But that’s not the only reason. Magnolia confirms the movie went through a few different edits, and honcho Eamonn Bowles is a bit mystified at the blowback. “Frankly I don’t know what cut they saw,” he says of buzz from buyers. “It was a question of emphasis. It’s not a radically different cut. Susanne tweaked it and it got better. The one they have now is the best one. It’s a beautiful-looking period piece, a fantastic-looking production. It’s completely relatable and understandable and a really good film. It’s a serious drama, a big-scale romance, and a bit of a tragic Lady MacBeth story.”
The film, based on the book by Ron Rash, tells the story of a newlywed couple who aspire to run a timber empire, but are torn apart by infidelity and jealousy. And Bowles believes that folks will get something unexpected. “If people go in thinking it’s a bad film they will be pleasantly surprised,” he says. “It’s a good film. I stand by it. Susanne Bier did a good job directorially on this film.”
“Serena” premires at the BFI London Film Festival and will open in the U.S. in early 2015.