Serena Ending Explained & Plot Analysis

“Love makes her strong, passion makes her dangerous”: the plot and meaning of the film Serena (2014): plot summary, film alternative ending, meaning, description, similar films.

Country: France, USA

Genre: drama, melodrama

Year of production: 2014

Director: Susanne Bier

Actors: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Rhys Ifans

Slogan: “Love makes her strong, passion makes her dangerous”

Oscar-winning director Susanne Bier made a beautiful, melancholic, leisurely, but at the same time very entertaining film.

The plot of the film “Serena” tells about the difficult relationship between a man and a woman, about complex, almost crazy love. And the meaning of the tape probably lies in the fact that every action we commit has a reaction and for every crime there is retribution. And it’s not always about arrest and prison – there is something much worse.

Plot Summary

Brief description of the contents of the picture. North Carolina, Great Depression. Ambitious “lumber magnate” George Pemberton, obsessed with the idea of ​​finding a panther in the forest and fighting it, one day meets the charming Serena Shaw. A beautiful and strong girl, who experienced a terrible tragedy in the past, quickly conquers him and soon he proposes to her.

Cooper and Lawrence of the film Serena
Bradley Cooper played the role of George Pemberton, Jennifer Lawrence played the role of Serena Shaw. Still from the film Serena

Entering George’s house, Serena gradually begins to take an interest in his business and even tries to manage it – not directly, but in a purely feminine way, influencing the enchanted George. Pemberton’s business partner Buchanan doesn’t like this very much – in his opinion, the panther-shaped, predatory Serena undermines his authority. Gradually the partnership deteriorates and Buchanan eventually leaves the business.

George is wounded – he considers such an act meanness. Serena calmly says that Buchanan, in fact, was never a real friend to him. She talks about this in such a way that black hatred for his former partner awakens in George’s heart. One day they go bear hunting and George kills Buchanan. The only witness to the crime is Pemberton’s employee, Campbell. However, when the sheriff begins an investigation, Campbell testifies in favor of the owner. Buchanan’s death is eventually ruled an accident.

George has an illegitimate son, Jacob. He has not had anything in common with his mother, Rachel, for a long time, but he, despite all the coldness of his nature, treats the boy very tenderly. Serena is jealous of her husband for Jacob and Rachel, however, seeing that communication with them is important for George, she tries to restrain her anger. Everything changes when the main character has a miscarriage and it turns out that she will never be able to have children. After this, the young woman begins to see Jacob as a threat – so much so that it literally drives her crazy.

Meanwhile, Campbell finally decides to testify against George. By the way, Pemberton has another dark secret – he once bribed a state senator. Having learned about Campbell’s intentions, the couple begin to seriously worry: his testimony could easily destroy them both.

Shortly before this, Serena saves the life of one of the lumberjacks, the dark, stern ex-tracker Galloway. After this, the man, also fascinated by her in his own way, makes it clear to the young woman that he is ready to do anything for her. Serena doesn’t need much – just let him eliminate the threat in the form of Campbell, Rachel and Jacob. Having thought about it, Galloway sets out to carry out a terrible task and soon a bloody trail begins to follow him.

Rhys Ifans of the film Serena
Rhys Ifans as Galloway, David Dencik as Buchanan, Bradley Cooper as George. Still from the film Serena

George realizes that the lives of Rachel and Jacob are in danger and, knowing that his gentle wife is behind this, he is horrified. “Tell me that you have nothing to do with it,” he asks his beloved wife. She does not deny her participation and says the following: “Everything is in order, it was necessary.”

Serena wants blood: she is sure that she and Jacob will not get along in this world. George desperately wants to save his ex-girlfriend and his son, and for this he is even ready to confess to all crimes. Going to the sheriff, he learns from him that Rachel and Jacob are at the station and preparing to leave. Wanting to get ahead of Galloway, who is on their trail, Pemberton rushes there.

The killer calmly watches as Rachel gets ready to board the train and slowly approaches her. George rushes at him and, after a short fight, cuts his throat…

Serena Ending explained

Explanation of the ending of the picture. In the finale, after seeing Rachel and Jacob off, George decides to go panther hunting. He soon manages to track down the beast, but it jumps on George and mortally wounds him. Before dying, Pemberton kills a wild cat with a hunting knife.

The man’s body is discovered by the sheriff, who already has a warrant for his arrest. The law enforcement officer brings Pemberton’s body to his home, but Serena refuses to identify him. However, the death of her beloved husband seems to devastate her. When the sheriff leaves, Serena takes her own life.

The meaning of the ending of the movie “Serena” lies in a simple phrase: the boomerang principle exists. George, who dreamed of a fight with a wild beast and has done many bad things before, loses it. His death is very symbolic, because he also lost the battle with a predator in a cute female form not long before…

As for Serena, life without George made no sense to her. That’s why she did what she did.

The meaning of the film Serena

“Serena” can be classified as a psychological drama, in the center of which there is a constant, although initially implicit, struggle between two personalities. The film is based on the novel of the same name by Ron Rash, but the director significantly changed both the concept of the book and its main idea. As a result, a terrible story about how painful passion pushes a person to commit monstrous acts turned into a leisurely story about failed love.

It all starts as a beautiful and lyrical melodrama. The plot centers on a young successful entrepreneur and a lovely woman with a difficult, tragic past. However, gradually the story turns into an almost Leskovian drama. The heroes constantly make mistakes, sometimes so serious that not only their relationships, but also the fates of the people around them collapse. However, nothing in this life passes without a trace – in the end, you have to pay for everything.

There are women who control men like puppets. Without much effort, it completely captures their heart and mind. George had a strange dream – to meet a panther in the forest. This animal is known to be famous for its wayward character and unpredictability. However, catching a panther is not a great achievement; try to tame it better…

One day, a young man meets a female panther and instantly falls in love with her. His feelings are more than mutual: the meaning of Serena’s life lies only in her idolized spouse. However, she is not going to dissolve in him and become his shadow. Moreover, she is ready to tear apart anyone who encroaches on her happiness.

According to the common interpretation, which is often found in analyzes of this film, there is a hidden meaning in the fact that the heroine’s name is Serena, as well as in the fact that the film is called after her. In Greek mythology, sirens are monsters with supernatural voices. Living on a remote island, they lured sailors passing by with their wondrous singing, and then devoured them…

married couple of the film Serena
Still from the film Serena (2014)

There is definitely something from mythological monsters in the character of the heroine. Beautiful and charming, she easily lures people into her network (not only George, but also Galloway became her victim), after which she methodically kills those who interfere with her.

She’s not evil at all. It’s just… Sigmund Freud was right, who once said that all our fears (like the demons living somewhere behind a secret door) come from childhood. Serena experienced a terrible tragedy – her family died in a fire. She grew up, blossomed, and met the man she loved. And everything would be fine, but the curse follows on her heels: a beautiful, charming young woman destroys everything that creates barriers to the much-desired family happiness. Values, morality, morality, common sense, after all? No, I have not heard. Justice does not exist for her – which means that only she herself can punish herself…

Serena’s box office was quite modest. The answer to this lies in the fact that there is nothing “mass, modern” in Susanne Bier’s painting. It is also impossible to consider this film as an example of auteur cinema, because there are no acute social themes here, and there is no clearly formulated statement either. The novel, cruel and merciless towards the reader, at the will of the director, turned into a fairly simple drama about a strong-willed and very predatory woman who is ready to do anything for the sake of undivided possession of her adored husband.

However, if you think about it, the essence of the film can be expressed in a slightly reformulated phrase by Ernest Hemingway. It goes like this: “Sooner or later life breaks everyone.” There is no escape from this, and the most important thing is to learn the lesson taught. However, Serena did not want this. Being a true panther, realizing that she was caught in a trap from which she could not escape, she chose to leave this world on her own terms.

By the way, the book has a much less tragic and poetic ending: in the novel, Serena outlives George (whom she herself “executes” for weakness towards a child), and then establishes her own empire in Brazil. In the end, the matured Jacob kills her – this is how he takes revenge on her for himself and for his father.

wooden house of the film Serena
Still from the film Serena

Similar films

Here are a few films similar in meaning to the film “Serena”:

  • Gone Girl (USA, 2014). The main character is trying to find his wife.
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (USA, Sweden, Norway, 2011). Journalist Mikael Blomkvist is investigating the disappearance of a woman that happened more than 40 years ago.
  • Legends of the Fall (USA, 1994). The film tells the story of the Ludlow family and one femme fatale.
  • Cold Mountain (USA, Italy, Romania, UK, 2003). American Civil War. A CSA soldier, Inman, tries to sneak behind the lines to meet his lover.
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