Serenity - 2019
Director(s): Steven Knight
Writer(s): Steven Knight
Cinematography by: Jess Hall
Editor(s): Laura Jennings
Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Diane Lane, Jason Clarke and Djimon Hounsou
Look - I am not going to review this film. Serenity is so out of this world, batshit-crazy that it doesn't matter that the camera work was hilariously stylized, or that the dialogue felt like a mixture of recycled dialogue and mad libs. It doesn't matter that the score is laced over moments that don't make sense and that the transitions are jarring and confusing. It doesn't matter that the acting from two Academy Award Winning actors, McConaughey with his Buick commercials level of commitment and Hathaway with her cartoon 1940's femme fatale voice, was baffling bad. What matters is the story and I will spoil the entire film moving forward. I must, I need to process what I saw. So, you have been warned about the full spoilers ahead.
The first act of this film plays out as you would've expected based on the trailers. McConaughey is a fisherman obsessed with catching a big tuna he named Justice, a Moby Dick type scenario. He lives in a small island where everyone knows everyone and to get by with his bills he has sex with Diane Lane and helps find the cat. His small island life is turned upside down when his ex-wife played by Hathaway shows up asking for a favor. She wants him to murder her abusive husband so that she and McConaughey’s son can be safe from him. Structurally and tonally a normal film so far, a bit slow and monotone but nothing crazy.
Quick note: through this act we see a well-dressed man carrying a suit trying to talk to McConaughey, always missing him by seconds.
Towards the midpoint of the second act is where the thing goes off the rails. We find out through the well-dressed man, that McConaughey is inside of a video game. The video game was created by his brilliant son, that we see regularly on his computer to escape the constant abuse his stepfather inflicts on his mother. McConaughey is an avatar of the kid’s father who passed away in a war. The island consists of multiple minigames; catch the fish and find the cat to name a few, all with specific rules that can't be broken. Never mind that the characters are always drinking, having sex for money, cliff diving naked to take a bath, blaming the death of his fishing partner for his bad luck, having nightmares and contemplating on the sins of the past, this is a kid's video game about fishing. Cool. Cool. Cool.
Third act rolls along and McConaughey is fully aware that he is a video game character and that his son is re-writing the game so that he kills the video game version of the abusive stepfather to get the courage?… to kill him in real-life and stop the abuse. With me so far? There is a wrench thrown in the mix as the game is trying to stop McConaughey from killing the man since it is against the rules of the game. THE GAME THE KID WROTE IS TRYING TO STOP THE KID FROM REWRITING HIS GAME.
The game is fine with alcoholism, beating women, sex, sex for money and skinny-dipping - but murder is the line it shall not cross is this fishing game. However, McConaughey, you know the computer code the kid wrote as the avatar representation of his father, has a deep connection to his son and he must do right by him. He murders the stepdad by letting the tuna fish called... Justice (get it?) drag him to the bottom of the ocean, McConaughey lets out a yell of satisfaction? and the kid kills his father (off-screen) with a knife. Aw. McConaughey has a conversation with the kid... the real kid, using a payphone inside the game and promises him that everything will be ok. The kid then rewrites the video game, again, and adds himself to it and they spend their lives happily ever after. The end. Cool.
Thanks for letting me vent. It is only January and I KNOW that this will be the weirdest film I will see this entire year. I will not call this movie a dumpster fire, because this is a movie that HAS to be seen. This is an experience, but just wait for it to hit Netflix.
Serenity is a Streamer!
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