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In theaters January 25, 2019


, ,

106 minutes

Directed by:

Starring: , , , , ,

The best way to approach Serenity (2019) is to discuss the basic plot, not the framework because it gets into spoilery territory, and Matthew McConaughey’s butt wouldn’t want you to be disappointed.

On the hot, sunny, wet, rainy (yep all of it) island of Plymouth, fisher captain Baker Dill (Matthew McConaughey) charters his boat to rich tourists hoping to snag the experience of reeling in trophy tuna or swordfish. His customer service could use some work and he’s in dire straights financially, sleeping with a local retiree (Diane Lane) for cash when he needs it. What a life, amirite?

Plymouth is populated with small-town island life, from perennial drunk Old Wes (John Whiteley) in the bar to Lois (Charlotte Butler) at the tackle shop. Baker’s one chase in life, the one Big Chase all hero characters in a quest have, is the One That Got Away, a giant tuna he’s named Justice, and catching his behemoth is all he can think about. There’s a creepy little salesman (Jeremy Strong) who seems intent on connecting with Baker to convince him his only quest is Justice. Like Baker’s First Mate, Duke (Djimon Hounsou), he’s a nagging conscience always nipping at the edges of reality. One evening as things look their bleakest and Baker has fired his only friend, Baker’s ex-honey (Anne Hathaway) steps back into his life with a proposition that could change everything. She wants him to kill her husband (Jason Clarke) for an insane amount of money and the sake of Baker’s son, who is seen in brief flashes of computer-lit screens to the soundtrack of his mom and step-father violently arguing. Patrick (Rafael Sayegh) has withdrawn into himself and his favorite fishing game, rewriting the code and connecting with his father who is worlds away.

Serenity, when the pieces are sewn into their whole, is a little bananas. Clarke’s menacing Frank, Hathaway’s winsome Karen, and McConaughey’s aggressively drinking Baker all play a role of adulting as seen through the eyes of an unbalanced child, which is why nothing quite feels logical. Remember that because it’s important. The sex looks made-for-TV PG, the violence is off-screen, and there are surreal moments of unreality which cannot be wholly blamed on Baker’s drinking or fish obsession. This is not to say Serenity is a bad movie, it’s just not what anyone is expecting. Sure, there’s the thriller noir aspect of a murder for hire, and the secret shame of an abusive marriage, but the framework of this movie, from the feeling that life is crafted by a higher power to the canned responses of the islanders as the drama ramped up compelled me to keep watching just to find out what the heck was happening.

I wasn’t disappointed. I mean, there is partial nudity (butt!) and it’s fantastic.

That said, folks aren’t going to like Serenity. People like their movies straightforward and their endings neat and tidy.

omparing it to similar movies would be giving away what I think needs to be discovered by an audience, so I’m urging you to see it. Not because it’s great cinema, but because I want you to have that WHAT IS EVEN feeling I had as the third reel spun out (that’s a fisherpeople joke). You’ll put this on the weird part of your movie shelf next to the movies I won’t mention but you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about when you see it. I also think it’s worth a second viewing because I know there are clues sprinkled throughout and you’ll only notice them when you’re looking for them, and your brain isn’t running its usual movie processes as fits everything together.

This is not a strong recommend, but I think it’s definitely worth seeing.

Serenity (2019is rated R for McConaughey’s fantastic butt, swears, people getting the ever-loving crap beat out of them, images of abuse, heights, made for tv movie “sex”, and lots and lots of booze.

Serenity is streaming now on the following services:
Movie Reelist Contributor: MontiLee Stormer
MontiLee Stormer is a writer of horror, dark and urban fantasy. She’s also is a troublemaker, concocting acts of mayhem and despair for her own selfish pleasure. An avid movie watcher, she prefers horror but will see just about anything if you're buying. Poltergeist (1982) is her favorite movie and she actively hates The Shining (1980) due to its racism, misogyny, the butchering of the source material. She could host a TEDtalk on this single subject. Writing about herself in the third person is just a bonus.

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