Fleeting Relevance’s review published on Letterboxd:
I knew virtually nothing about this film going in and was immediately thrilled to see that it was set in my beeeeeeeautiful home region of the Great Smoky Mountains straddling Tennessee and North Carolina! Turns out it was actually filmed in *checks Wikipedia*... the Czech Republic, but hey, you know..... whatever! That initial thrill at the setting was unfortunately also the only thrill to be had because this is just one of the okayest movies I've ever seen.
A major point of contention in the story is the battle between logger barons and government officials over the formation of the National Park, and because I'm from the area I'm interested in that sort of historical material but I can see other folks not giving a fuuuuuuuuck and even the movie itself seems to stop caring about that issue towards the end. I think the biggest problem though is simply that nobody here is likable nor are they even unlikable in any especially interesting ways. The film is named for J-Law's character but we spend more time with Cooper's and it doesn't matter anyway because they're both just shitty scheming domineering assholes trying to conquer the land and people around them. Pfft whatever it's America, get in line jerks.
Serena herself is weird because the story tries to do some things with her to no real effect, like she has burn scars and we're told about how she ran away from her childhood home as it burned down and snuffed out her whole family but she seems fairly well adjusted now as she effectively helps run this timber empire, and sure she gets murderously vindictive towards her hubby's old babymama after losing her own baby but I don't think you need any crazy backstory to help motivate that? Whatever, again.
I will say that I think the acting is actually pretty good, Lawrence and Toby Jones in particular are better than this script deserves honestly. The dissonance there is almost embarrassing. The talents of your actors are all for nought when the story is bland, the cinematography is bland, and there isn't anything memorable or noteworthy going on whatsoever. So yeah, 2 1/2 out of 5. Whatever!