(Release Info U.K. schedule; February 26th, 2019, Everyman Mailbox Birmingham, 116 Wharfside Street, The Mailbox, Birmingham, West Midlands, B1 1RF, 19:00 PM)
The tranquil cerulean waters of a tropical island are known as a vacationer’s paradise, but not to Baker Dill (Matthew McConaughey), a scarred fishing boat captain who earns a living by taking obnoxious tourists game-fishing aboard his twin-engine boat christened ‘Serenity'. To make it worse, 'Serenity' docks in a beachside village called 'Plymouth' whose residents relish a little too much in staying on top of everyone else’s business; an annoyance to someone like Dill who makes it a habit to keep to himself. Dill’s only true companion is his first-mate Duke (Djimon Hounsou), an islander with an ingrained sense of responsibility that's only cultivated with age and hard-work. The two men could make a profitable living if it wasn’t for Dill neglecting his customers due to his obsession with catching a blue fin tuna that continuously eludes his grasp. After another vacationer’s excursion goes awry, Duke reminds Dill that if he intends to salvage their business, he has to give up on his blind obsession of capturing an elusive tuna and give the customers what they want; an escape from the realities and stresses of life. Dill refuses to listen to his friend’s wise advice and instead drowns his sorrows in booze at the local bar or in the arms of Constance (Diane Lane), who offers him solace as well as cash when he can’t quite make ends meet.
One day, out of the blue, Dill’s ex-wife Karen Zariakas (Anne Hathaway), who abandoned him years earlier for a wealthy man with suspicious business practices, appears on the island. She reveals that her life has not been idyllic and that their teenage son Patrick (Rafael Sayegh) has become withdrawn, spending all his time playing video games. On top of that, her husband Frank (Jason Clarke) physically abuses her, and she's worried about Patrick’s safety. She wants Dill to take Frank fishing, get him drunk, and push him overboard for the sharks to feed on his corpse. In return, she will pay him ten million dollars. Dill balks at her proposition and refuses to agree. But as visions of his son begin to haunt him and Frank displays his true colors to Dill, Dill starts to re-think Karen’s proposal, despite Duke pressing him not to give in to temptation. What complicates things even more is the appearance of an odd traveling salesman named Reid Miller (Jeremy Strong) and the eerie feeling that the locals know more about Karen and her scheme than they should. While Dill weighs Karen’s unseemly proposal, he slowly begins to realize that things are not all they seem; and uncovering the mystery will determine what he decides to do next.
'Fishermen' are quite obsessive about catching fish, and this film is about someone who’s obsessed about catching a particular fish. Baker Dill is slightly heightened, larger than life, he's a sort of character that doesn’t give off himself too readily, someone who’s closed in. Dill is a guy who has had a life, he was in the army, and he’s washed up on this amazing paradise island, but we need to feel that this is a guy who has really lived a life. He’s not trying to hide from what has gone on in his life, but he certainly wants to protect other people from what was within him. Dill believes that he’s making the choices, and then slowly begins to wonder, ‘Am I actually making these choices or are these choices being imposed upon me'? On the surface it’s about a man who's obsessed with catching a fish, but underneath this storyline are themes of how our realities are created and the power we've in the choices we make. For the character of Dill, the film is inspired by ideas of classic masculinity going all the way back to Bogart or Brando. It's really about playing with the level of truth and grit and masculinity and a refined sensibility. But as the story progresses you realize might be a very truthful reflection of the life that he’s living.
Karen is a mother who on the surface seems very gentle and meek, but who underneath is very much a warrior. She's defined by the love for her child and that every decision she makes is for his wellbeing. She presents a lot of questions in how she presents herself, always elegantly, always meticulously. There's a very serious question throughout the movie as to who Karen is. With that audiences would be looking towards Karen’s clothes for answers as to who she really is and what her motives really are. One of the most fun parts of the job is figuring out when to provide clues and figuring out when to make sure that there were no clues. Frank is a character that we hear a lot about before meeting him, so the audience’s expectations are going to be pretty high. By the time we meet him, as a designer, get to sort of play into the audience's expectations of who this man is, and it turns out that he’s quite a snappy dresser. Frank is always impeccably put together, and his costumes are essential to helping audience understand him as a character, the world that he comes from, and the world that he expects to always play around him. The character of Duke is actually based on a real person. He's the first mate on the boat. Duke is the emotional, spiritual core of the movie. He's a man whose entire appearance has to convey his humility and his simplicity, but also to play with color in a way that makes Duke one of more vibrant figures in "Serenity". He's really saturated. Duke is an incredibly important counterbalance to the kind of washed out world that the movie creates.
"Serenity" is set somewhere in the tropics on a fictional island called 'Plymouth'. 'Mauritius' is sort of undiscovered in terms of movie making because it has only recently opened up it's doors. In other words, 'Mauritius' could be 'India', 'The Caribbean', 'Africa', or it could be 'France' depending on where you're and in terms of the ethnic make up of the people. Everyone is here, everyone is mixed and everyone seems to rub along together nicely. Being in 'Mauritius' is a huge factor in understanding the looks of 'Plymouth'. The characters are on a tropical island in the middle of 'The Indian Ocean'. It’s incredibly beautiful, the ocean is crystal blue, the weather is heavenly and the sand is powdery white sand. The people of 'Mauritius' are very specific. They're incredibly generous and peaceful. In seeing the way they dress, living a true island life, has definitely informed my understanding of how life might be on 'Plymouth'. The film incorporates 'Mauritius' and the understanding of some of the character’s attitudes, relaxing things a little bit and dialing back any contemporary references. When you’re here, you realize that on an island you’re living in your own world.
Shooting on a boat is very difficult, as it's very slow and expensive, and there are issues with weather and inconsistencies in the light as well as the water. The unique advantage of shooting in 'Mauritius' is that it’s a volcanic island surrounded by a reef. However, because Mauritius reef gives a lagoon effect that's only two meters deep, it almost entirely mimics the physical characteristics of a tank Effectively, you've this gigantic tank and the reef acts as the line between the still water and the ocean water, which is exactly how you shoot in a tank. We're in a fictitious tropical location, and we don’t know where that place is narratively, but the film uses 'Mauritius' and all it's physical attributes to build that world. It’s an intriguing mélange of the actual appearance, what you can see on the screen. There's the real level and there's the subconscious level and there the deep level. Mauritius offered up a lot of opportunities because of the isolation of the island. It means that it has got a lot of intensity, from the mountains you see behind the rivers, to the coastline, and then the beautiful cities and shorelines, and the fishing. The film works with bold colors, but to control it so it isn't garish. The sunlight is very strong and the film deals with a lot of primary colors. Overall, it’s about retaining some of the beautiful primary aspect to the island, but just taking the edge off that so it’s not an oversaturation.
While not a traditional noir thriller, "Serenity" certainly pays homage to classic films of the genre as well as literature. In terms of dialogue and setting and mood, it's a conscious nod to Ernest Hemingway and Graham Greene, absolutely. It also references to some of the classic movies of the ‘40s and ‘50s. What's really fun about designing consumes for "Serenity" is that there's a duality to all the characters, to their stories, to their world and their understanding of their predicaments. The film approaches it from the truth that the characters found themselves in and also the archetypes that would have informed the way the characters like these may have been seen in movies of the past, including especially the classic noir movies. It's really using the classic noir movies, Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, and asking how they might be translated into a contemporary esthetic.
At first glance "Serenity" is the story of a fisherman’s obsession with catching a fish, but the film wants audiences to see it on a deeper level; people can choose to view it as a conventional thriller or they can choose to view it as something else. The film is interested, on various levels, in good people doing bad things for a good reason, which is what happens in this film. It's also about the idea of choice and free will, it’s impossible to resolve whether we've them. Because once you’ve made a choice, that’s it and that choice, is it always going to be there or did you choose it? You know, a fable has a moral to the end of the tale and the film deals with the game of life, and the long-term view of what it's to win and connections that go beyond life and death, love and the end of love.