First Hit: This dark film is well acted but is a downer to watch.
Pemberton (Bradley Cooper) is a young good looking man who has some family money that is tied up in land both in Brazil and the Smoky Mountains. He’s been logging the Smokey Mountains for revenue and is stripping the landscape by cutting down all the trees.
Even though this is the time of the great depression and jobs and money is scarce, there are people who don’t want the mountains raped of the trees for profit. He sleeps with an employee that brings his food. He heads back east and meets strong willed Serena (Jennifer Lawrence) who was alone in the world because her family didn’t survive a fire in their home.
She is strong independent and there is immediate chemistry. They marry and he drags her off to the Smoky Mountains. She clashes with Pemberton’s right hand man Buchanan (David Denik) because of her intellect and strength. Pemberton’s former housekeeper is now pregnant with his child and jealousy ensues. The film is about how their world collapses.
Cooper is good as Pemberton. There is nothing extraordinary about his performance. Lawrence shows, yet again, why she is an up and coming actress. She carries this film and makes it interesting. Denik is very good as Pemberton’s right hand man who tries to double-cross his boss. Ana Ularu is effective as the woman who has Pemberton’s child out of wedlock. Christopher Kyle wrote this slowly paced, mediocre and dark screen play. Susanne Bier directed getting a lot from Lawrence.
Overall: This film did not seem like there was enough for the actors to really expand their abilities and more fully engage a story.