So, you are at your friend’s house and they have decided to cook for you. You reluctantly say okay and after they disappear for a couple of hours, they come back with a weird looking and smelling dish. You try to hide your disgust and try to convince yourself it can’t taste that bad, but with the first bite you taste toothpaste. After spitting it out your first instinct would be to ask why? A similar experience is Serenity where, by the end, your only wish will be to ask the director why?
Serenity follows Captain Baker Dill (Mathew McConaughey) on a remote island where he mainly miserably hunts for a tuna fish he calls Justice, drinks rum, and has sex with his neighbour for money. Dill’s repetitive cry-for-help life takes an even more grim turn when his ex (Anne Hathaway), and mother of his estranged son Patrick, pops back into his life and asks him to take her abusive husband (Jason Clarke) out on a fishing trip and return without him. Dill has to decide between protecting his son and doing something wrong, and he has to do it fast.
This is as much of the plot that can be said without spoiling anything. But, to be honest, the film is much less about the mentioned part and much more about a twist.
Serenity begins with emptying the big bag of clichés on audiences’ lap; starting from a messed-up war veteran drinking rum, to a captain whose only goal is to catch a specific fish. The clichés don’t stop with characters and their surroundings, they taint the dialogue as well.
The dialogue is filled with lines that are a lot more than vaguely familiar like “How many years have I been here, Jack?” and “On this island everybody knows everything.”
The characters are also written to be skittish, especially Dill’s ex-wife who rocks a very obvious fake blonde wig and quickly shifts between her only two moods in the most unrealistic of ways.
For the acting, Mathew McConaughey is average by the standard of most actors, but on the scale of his own performances this is definitely nowhere near his best. Like most of his fans will say, the cliché lines and the messed-up screenplay didn’t help him out. The even bigger disappointment was Anne Hathaway, who is credited for knowing the exact balance between an evocative performance and an over the top one. But with such a cartoonish character, Hathaway is just unauthentic and inconsistent. Jason Clarke has a much smaller and simpler role which is exactly why he fits the bill and performs his role perfectly.
As you watch the first part of the film you will clearly make out these faults and many more, but you will later find out (trying so hard not to spoil anything) that these faults, or at least some of them, were intended and will serve the twist.
The twist itself is far-fetched and unpredictable; it asks audiences to completely throw logic, basic science, and sensibility out the window. It is bold, but sadly it doesn’t work and neither does the film.
Seeing names like Mathew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway, as well as finding out there is a twist in the film might have you buying a ticket to watch Serenity. If you still see it after reading this review, my only piece of advice is: don’t get your hopes up.