Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Books Made Into Movies: The Lovely Bones

The Lovely Bones

Studio: Paramount
Originally Released: Apr. 2010
Running Time: 136 Minutes
Rated: PG-13

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?


  1. Great book. The movie just didn't have the same "feel" or "mood" of the book. It's like the story was told from a different perspective, or with a different slant. I just couldn't equate the move with the book at all.

  2. I loved the book and the movie was just okay. I agree with you about Susan Sarandon and Stanley Tucci 100% They were awesome in this movie!

  3. I never read the book. I know I'm probably the only one. I just couldn't when it first came out because my daughter was around the same age and the idea of it was too much. It is on my list to read now since said daughter is now old enough she read it herself and loved it.

    But, I did see the movie and I'm with you sister. The whole in-between place was just a bit too 70s for me. Susan Sarandon knocked it out of the park, I want her to be my Boozy granny. And again I agree with you, Stanley Tucci, ye gods, he was creepy and I love him. Even now thinking about him I get the willies.

  4. I tried to read the book but came to the rape and just could not go on...and the movie, well have heard it wasn't as good

  5. I thought the book was incredible but can barely recall the movie already. I think I must have fallen asleep before it ended. Huh.

  6. I've read the book but it took me a while to take it off the bookshelf! I made the mistake of reading "Almost Moon" by Alice Sebold first and that put me off her for a while. Haven't seen the movie, but would certainly be interested in doing so. Perhaps Sir Peter Jackson is returning to his original days of weird and wonderful splatter movies?

  7. I enjoyed the book a lot more than I enjoyed the movie. I think that thing about the movie was that it was very close to how I visualized the story while reading which was creepy. Stanley Tucci also FREAKED me out! I much prefer him in roles like "Julie and Julia"

  8. Susan Sarandon was fantastic in this movie! I actually liked the movie more than the book, but did find the in-between place rather annoying.

  9. I don't know if this is polarizing, but I completely agree with you. I really liked the book, but the movie was not good. I almost wanted to leave the was boring, it was weird, and all the stuff that was neat about the book didn't translate.

    Glad, again, to see I am not alone!

  10. I thought the movie was just okay. I probably would have liked it more if I hadn't read the book first. I didn't like the portrayal of the "in between place" at all. It was too bizarre.

  11. Too bad you didn't like the movie. I read the book a couple 3-4 years back and I didn't really like it. I couldn't connect to any of the characters. I guess I might like the movie.

  12. I read the book when it first came out too and remember really loving it. I was less thrilled with the film. And I remember writing in my notes for review (which I still haven't done): SO MANY MONTAGES! I adored Susan Sarandon too. Overall, there was some good to the film (I forgot it was set in the 1970's, for example), but overall, I agree it was over the top.

  13. The story was mainly focused on Susie's family, and how they dealt with her death. She watches as her sister, Lindsey, holds her grief and feelings deep under the surface.She sees her Father fighting to have Susie's killer thrown in jail without any proof other than his gut feelings.She see's her true childhood love, Ray grow, yearning for one last kiss. She see's a misunderstood friend and artist suffer from her death. And she sees her mother running away, and her younger brother, Buckley becoming a stone at heart. Susie also watches over her killer, seeing as he manages to go under the radar during the investigation.


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