Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Monday, February 18, 2019

“Serenity” is filled with absurdity and awkwardness

Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway star as Baker and Karen in "Serenity" 

On Plymouth Island, everybody thinks they know everything, but the truth is, nobody knows anything.

“Serenity,” directed by Oscar nominee Steven Knight, stars Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway. Although it seemed to have enough originality and modernization to stand out as a unique and progressive film, the movie as a whole fell drastically short due to its bizarre and ridiculous plot line.

Advertised as a thriller, the beginning was somewhat intriguing when protagonist Baker Dill’s (McConaughey) tranquil and solitary life as a deep-sea fisherman is interrupted by a visit from his battered ex-wife, Karen (Hathaway). A victim of domestic violence at the hands of her current husband for the past ten years, Karen pleads with Dill to help her carry out an elaborate plan to end the abuse:taking her husband out on a fishing trip and throwing him overboard to the sharks, but making it look like an accident. In return, Karen offers Dill millions in cash and a chance to see his son again.

Though already in rough waters due to an illogical plot, the film takes a sharp turn downhill when Dill, still debating if he should carry through with the plan, discovers the truth about Plymouth Island. This “nobody knows anything” lifestyle on Plymouth is given a modernized spin by Knight, causing Dill to spiral as he tries to navigate through his new, surreal world. Grappling with his now farcical existence, he must make sense of new and changing rules to his reality.

Throughout the film, characters try to cope with harrowing pasts, but their performances are far from believable. Dill, who moved to a remote island as an escape, should appear haunted and overwhelmed by his ex-wife and past flooding back into his life. Instead, his pain is only portrayed through incoherent dialogue and unnatural actions. Brutalized Karen appears stiff when delivering her lines and unconvincingly eerie when speaking of murder and trauma.

The level of absurdity in “Serenity" as it tries  to maintain a serious and dark plot line only prompts awkward laughter throughout the film. Using overdramatized metaphors that include a giant tuna named Justice, we see talented actors McConaughey and Hathaway fall flat and Knight’s direction appear amateurish. 

Grade: D

“Serenity” opens in theaters on Friday, Jan. 25.

pbigora@theeagleonline.com


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