The Lovely Bones
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Susie Salmon, a young girl who has been murdered, watches over her family - and her killer - from heaven. She must weigh her desire for vengeance against her desire for her family to heal.
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. --A.T. Hurley
Stills from The Lovely Bones (Click for larger image)
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Top customer reviews
At first glance, THE LOVELY BONES looks like it could be rather corny and underdone. Nevertheless, this is a very unique and satisfying film. Though some of the acting and directions are not the greatest, Saoirse Ronan and several others give good performances here. THE LOVELY BONES is one of those films that is at once heartwarming and heartbreaking.
THE LOVELY BONES is an interesting mix of fantasy, teen drama, and horror with Disneyesque--and I mean that in a good way--special effects and props. The afterlife scenes are absolutely breathtaking, and, although the plot-line wavers in places and has its share of holes, it's never dull, keeps your attention, and doesn't come out anywhere near as predictably as you might think. Set in the 1970s, THE LOVELY BONES captures that period most convincingly. While it sometimes has the feel of an After-School Special, there is one pretty gruesome (for a PG-13) post-murder dream sequence, which contributes still more to its interesting blend of qualities.
Never seen anything like it, and highly recommend!
Indeed, there are flaws to be seen in the film. I personally did not read the book so I cannot judge whether it digresses from the book distinctly. The timeline is not always clear, some scenes feel out of place, like they should have gone elsewhere. The film is muddled and unclear in places. Yet these criticisms, while certainly valid in their own right, truly miss the spirit of the film.
This is not a film about justice, crime solving, or spirituality. One need only keep in mind emotion to enjoy this film. It does a remarkable job of tearing your heart out and eating it alive. Throughout, you follow the characters through successive stages of heartache and grief: you share their worry when Susan goes missing, their agony when they realize that she isn't coming back, you feel the wound of loss, the deep gaping hole which will never be filled. You feel your world collapse around you as the characters do. I, as a grown man, was teary-eyed throughout. Eventually, one must move on, yet, even though you do, you share the change that these sad events has forced upon the characters. You can truly be sucked into this film, feel its emotion, on account of the remarkable performances by all the actors involved. I truly felt like I was sitting beside them, sharing in their pain. The soundtrack is somber and reflective, and always does its job of amplifying emotion.
Now, the reason this film merits 4 instead of 5 stars. This can be summed up quite succinctly: if you go into this film trying to be critical, trying to spot the flaws, you will not enjoy it. This vortex is difficult to escape at times, but if you can overcome this, you will truly enjoy this movie.
Most recent customer reviews
I can see the director's intent, add this movie did honestly have an intriguing concept; a girl loses her life prematurely, and...Read more
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