Serenity Parent Guide
Clumsily edited, with poor writing, simplistic characters, and a bizarre lead performance, "Serenity" capsizes under its own weaknesses.
Parent Movie Review
Baker Dill (Matthew McConaughey) operates a small fishing boat on the serene island of Plymouth, taking tourists for exotic fishing trips and catching swordfish to pay for fuel and hooks. Aside from making ends meet, Dill’s real passion is focused on catching a massive tuna which has eluded him for years. Dill seems willing to sacrifice anything, from potential business and even his friend Duke (Djimon Hounsou) to catch the fish. That is, until his ex-wife Karen (Anne Hathaway) comes and asks him to take her husband Frank (Jason Clarke) out on a fishing trip… and leave him for the sharks. She tells Dill that Frank is abusing her and Dill’s son Patrick (Rafael Sayegh). As Dill struggles to sort out his priorities and morals, he must also discern the intentions of a strange salesman who seems to have something supernatural to say - all before the fateful voyage.
If this sounds like a lot of plot, it is. Serenity has bitten off more than its prepared to chew. This film doesn’t have a problem with plot holes or loose threads, but it does a very poor job of digesting its premise. The writing is awkward and jumbled and character motivations are so simplistic as to feel inauthentic. The soundtrack is equally discomfiting and would be far better suited to an action thriller than a supernatural mystery. The movie is further weakened by a bizarre performance from Matthew McConaughey, which seems primarily to consist of removing his shirt and screaming. McConaughey’s performance is so erratic I was starting to wonder if the bottles of rum on the set were real and not props. And, as if these elements of the film aren’t bad enough, the editing feels both disjointed and random. Mid-dialogue cuts are disorienting at the best of times and are so frequent that I almost wonder if the takes are short because the actors couldn’t be bothered to remember their lines. (Not that those lines are complicated or compelling – it’s all pretty bland, thanks to the aforementioned poor writing.)
This film is rated R, and rightly so. There is little by way of positive messages or compelling morals, let alone enough to balance out the extensive content issues. Viewers will want to be aware of the sexual content: there are three sex scenes, which manage to be fairly detailed even without explicit nudity. These scenes are so cringingly awkward, so off-putting, that they were almost enough to drive me to take a vow of celibacy. This is an adult film, but why any adult would want to see it is beyond me.
Serenity has launched itself as a deep, introspective, and complex thriller. Unfortunately, it has a few leaks and seems to be sinking fast, overburdened with poor production decisions and overambitious philosophical musings. Do yourself a favor and don’t waste your time and money on this shipwreck of a film.Directed by Steven Knight. Starring Anne Hathaway, Matthew McConaughey, and Diane Lane. Running time: 106 minutes. Theatrical release January 25, 2019. Updated June 13, 2019
Rating & Content Info
Why is Serenity rated R? Serenity is rated R by the MPAA for language throughout, sexual content, and some bloody images
Violence: >A man threatens another man with a knife. Sounds of domestic violence are heard over a description of abuse or are heard in the background several times. It is inferred that a man has beaten his wife with a belt: welts are seen on her back. A character is beaten off screen and is shown bleeding heavily with a broken hand and a swollen eye. A character is choked briefly. A man is deliberately led to his death. A man is stabbed to death off-screen. A man is shown skinny dipping but is not seen clearly. Human blood is seen in some scenes as is fish blood.
Sexual Content: There are two scenes in which we see characters undressing: male and female posterior nudity is visible. There are three sex scenes, none of which contain explicit nudity. There is reference to young girls engaged in prostitution, and some lewd discussion of the topic, but nothing is seen.
Profanity: This movie features at least 120 curse words, including 45 sexual expletives. Profanity in all categories is frequently used in every circumstance.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Characters are shown drinking socially with high frequency and shown drinking alone to excess. At one point, a character singlehandedly downs two bottles of rum and drives a car. Many characters, including the protagonists, are shown smoking on more than one occasion.
Page last updated June 13, 2019
Serenity Parents' Guide
Domestic violence is a significant problem, with over 10 million Americans being abused by a partner each year. What resources are available for the victims of domestic assault in your community? How does our culture foster attitudes that allow intimate partner violence to continue? How can you help end domestic violence?
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