The Lovely Bones
Originally Released: Apr. 2010
Running Time: 136 Minutes
Synopsis: Director Peter Jackson takes a personal, risky leap in his direction of the film version of Alice Sebold's bestselling novel The Lovely Bones. Yet the leap pays off, in emotional depth and riveting visuals that transport the viewer to other worlds--even ones the viewer may not want to visit. The Lovely Bones is lofted by its star-making performance by the young Saoirse Ronan (Atonement), who plays Susie Salmon, the 14-year-old girl who is murdered early in the film, and who narrates the action from her "in-between place" after dying but before going to heaven. Ronan makes Susie as earthy and awkward as any young teen, yet her presence, and her gorgeous pale eyes, remind viewers that she's otherworldly too. The Lovely Bones takes some big departures from the book, as many critics have pointed out, but it works well on its own merits. The drama involves how (even whether) Susie's family will recover after her ghastly murder, and what happens to her killer and the futile-seeming search for justice and closure. The entire cast is stellar, including Mark Wahlberg and Rachel Weisz as Susie's nearly destroyed parents; the composed young New Zealand actress Rose McIver, who plays Susie's younger sister, whom Susie watches grow up to be the young woman that Susie will never get to be; and Susan Sarandon, the boozy, wisecracking grandmother who may or may not be able to help keep the family from splintering into a million pieces. The other true standout is Stanley Tucci, almost unrecognizable as the quiet, creepy neighbor who kills Susie, obsessing over every detail and perhaps having left a whole trail of gruesome murders in his shambling wake. Jackson's deft direction keeps the mourning humans moving along believably, numbly, and gives breathtaking life to the afterlife, in scenes of fantasy and dread that recall his Heavenly Creatures. The film is rated PG-13 but is not recommended for younger teenagers because of its intense subject matter, though handled delicately.
My Take: Dude, this is not what I expected. Be warned, this may be a polarizing movie review so if you loved this movie you may want to not keep reading. Ok now I will say this: I read this book when it came out and that was my pre-blogging days and it came out in 2002. I know I read it in hardback so I am guessing I read it pretty soon after the release date so let's say I read it 9 years ago. I know my memory would be fuzzy but I also remember really liking it and it staying with me in a way certain books have the power of doing. This one stayed with me because I was surprised it didn't scare the pants off me but it wasn't scary. I remember our narrator, little Susie Salmon, just wanting to help her family find peace and possibly her murderer.
What I don't remember? You want to know what I don't remember and what was huge in this movie? Oh that would be the trippy, hippy, dippy love fest that was the 'in-between place'. Holy smokes what was Jackson smoking? Look, I know this book was set in the 1970s but come on! The book was not that long and the movie was 2.5 hours. I believe that was because we had to spend a lot of the time letting Susie live out some sort of bizarre acid trip fantasy.
You want to know what I did like? Boozy Susan Sarandon as the grandmother! She was awesome and a much needed comedic relief in what was a very dramatic movie. Also, Stanley Tucci, I love you. You were totally creepy and I hardly recognized you. I wouldn't want to live next door to you if you were my neighbor in this movie so nice work.
I know that my memory of this book is probably fuzzy being that I read it so long ago but I also know that there were things in this movie that I didn't like and that had they been in a book I wouldn't have liked, even in my college days. Not just the trippy bits. The belaboring a point until Marky Mark could figure out who the murderer was. My boyfriend and I were yelling at the TV because they were really going round and round about that one, hitting him over the head.
Ok I think that's enough snark for me. I am probably the last person in the world to have watched this movie so what did you all think of it?