The Lovely Bones
Firstly let me say that I have not read Alice Sebold’s critically acclaimed novel from which this film is based. At many times throughout this year I have been tempted to read it, but decided that I really wanted to judge this The Lovely Bones as a film and not just an adaptation. So if you have read the novel, your cinema going experience of the Lovely Bones may vary quite substantially to mine.
The story follows the life and death of a young teenager called Susie Salmon. As the movie unfolds we see the moment that Susie passes from being an active player to merely a spectator in her own family.
Susie struggles to come to grips with her untimely death and of being robbed of so many of life’s firsts, such as that first kiss from your first love. Which leads at time to an epic struggle between the desire for revenge, and a deep longing to find healing for her emotional torn apart family. Of course true wisdom comes to her from some of the most unexpected sources, such as the realization that “Everyone dies”.
Now as this is a plot entangled drama, I don’t want to go into too much of the actual plot as I feel that for those who have not read the book, the subtle nuances of the story flow will be very enjoyable to experience. I will however point out, that although the scenes of Susie in the “Inbetween world” are spectacularly heaven like, well thought out and beautifully artistic, there are times when you wish the story would move forward a little faster and that we could see more of the wonderful and deeply broken characters played by the feature actors such as Mark Wahlberg, Susan Sarandon and Rachel Weisz. Three people who respond to the loss in completely different ways, which at times feels so dysfunctional.
There are times when it feels as though Peter Jackson’s focus was on the visual arts and not on the telling of a story. The reality of cinema is that it is always going to be a delicate juggle between the two components. However, overall I really enjoyed this film and found myself lost in the story and really emotionally connecting to the characters s you began to root for the good guys to solve the murder and then there were copious moments when you so desperately wished for harm to befall Stanley Tucci’s wonderfully evil character, “George Harvey”
One character that I really enjoyed I this film was Susie’s father Jack Salmon as played by Mark Wahlberg. There was a tender and yet raging spirit that came through from his portrayal of this completely heart-broken and yet strangely hope-filled father. It is interesting to note that Mark Wahlberg replaced Ryan Gosling just days before shooting began. In preparation for the role, Gosling had gained 20 pounds and grew out a beard. Apparently Gosling vacated the role due to creative differences. This of course opened the door for Wahlberg to accept the role, having just completed shooting “The Happening”.
So, Oscar worthy performances amazing and expressive scenery and effects back a timeless story of pain, loss, struggle and hope. Well worth a trip to the cinema in my opinion..
Reviewed by: Jon E Clist
Releases: 26th December 2009
Rating: [M] Contains violence
Running time: 135 minutes
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz, Susan Sarandon, Stanley Tucci & Saoirse Ronan
Director: Peter Jackson