Released in January of this year Serenity is a film that is nearly inexplicable.
Writer/Director Steven Knight is known for dark thrillers like Eastern Promises and Locke. Films that will keep you on the edge of your seat and invested in the characters involved. His latest film, Serenity, continues this streak with a cast that includes Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Diane Lane, Jason Clarke, and Djimon Hounsou. Sold as a “sexy noir” set in a tropical climate, the film is much more than what it appears to be on the surface.
McConaughey plays Baker Dill, a fishing boat captain who is obsessed with catching a giant Tuna that he’s named “Justice.” Baker will take tourists out to try to catch fish, but places his obsession above all else. Some days he gets close to catching “Justice.” Some days it never even shows up. When he fails to catch anything he meets up with Constance (Lane), and exchanges sexual favors for enough money to keep him afloat, literally. Everything in Baker’s life is pretty simple and satisfying, until Karen Zariakas arrives.
When Karen (Hathaway) comes to the island of Plymouth, where it’s revealed “Baker” has run off to after changing his name, she brings a complicated conflict. Baker and Karen have a child together, and she has brought her abusive husband here to have Baker kill him and drop him in the ocean to be lost at sea, thus saving herself and their son from her rich husband Frank (Clarke). Baker struggles with the decision of whether to help her and take the life of the man that is harming his son and the woman he once loved, or to shove her aside and continue his life of freedom and peace.
From there the film takes twists and turns that you would never believe, but are from a classic trope seen in various films and TV shows. This is the type of film that you honestly don’t want to know much more about before you head into it. The plot is full of some of the biggest mind boggling twists I’ve seen in a wide release, and are the type of thing you’d expect from a small independent film. Once the film sets up its major twist, you’re forced to wonder how things will play out and what is true and what isn’t. Is this the film you thought it was at the start, or has it gone down the rabbit hole to become something else entirely.
The end result is satisfying, and makes complete sense, but almost feels lack luster because it’s something that we’ve seen plenty of times before. What makes it work however is the way in which the film focuses on McConaughey’s character. By putting his character at the center of it all, and making him the driving force, it gives a unique look to this concept and makes the ride worthwhile.
It’s honestly difficult to talk about the film without giving away the major twist that occurs halfway through the film. But suffice to say it’s something that is worthy of your time for the performances alone. The plot and the script for this film are solid, and the direction by Knight is on point. But without the dedication to these characters, and the stellar performances by every person involved, the film wouldn’t have a leg to stand on. IT’s something that I highly recommend if looking for something to keep your mind reeling, not just as the film goes on, but long after the credits roll.
Serenity is currently available on DVD, Blu-Ray and Digital platforms, and is streaming now on Amazon Prime.
Written by Alex Lancaster
(Alex is a life long film fan, and has dedicated his life to watching, making and obsessing over films. His favorite film is Big Fish, and he despises Avatar. He has a 5 year old son. And a bad habit of saying more than he needs to. Follow @alex5348 on Twitter)