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The Lovely Bones (2009)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: Peter Jackson

Starring:
Saoirse Ronan/Susie
Mark Wahlberg/Jack
Stanley Tucci/George
Rachel Weisz/Abigail
8 10
PLOT-CRUNCH
In 1973, a spunky young teenage gal (Ronan), with her whole life ahead of her, is murdered by a perv nut job (Tucci). She is shipped to purgatory and from there; she watches her family cope with the loss as they attempt to find the killer. Oh and the gal has to deal with her own death on top of everything. Fun times! NOT!
THE LOWDOWN

These were the lovely bones that had grown around my absence: the connections — sometimes tenuous, sometimes made at great cost, but often magnificent — that happened after I was gone. - Suzie

THE LOVELY BONES is based on Alice Sebold bestselling 2002 novel of the same name. I’ve never devoured the thing and came into the film back-wards to be honest. The bad word of mouth it was getting made me weary and being that I’ve been tapping movies non stop now of late (end of the year catch up), I was in no mood for another ho hum effort. Thankfully, as soon as it began, I got vacuumed in pronto and my gut told me that I was gonna be in for a unique cinematic experience. I was right.

For me, this is PETER JACKSON the way I love him. The LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy didn’t do much for me (just not my thing) and although I enjoyed KING KONG, it was a tad too bloated for its own good. THE LOVELY BONES was Jackson back to HEAVENLY CREATURES territory (my fav film of his BTW); a visually striking, poetic, often stirring and chilling ride. I was in like Flint (whoever that is) the moment I was introduced to the main protagonist Suzie, played fiercely by Saoirse Ronan (she should get an Oscar for this). Sweet, innocent, vibrant, charismatic, Suzie was the daughter I wish I had (if I wanted kids) – I grew fond of her off the bat. The film played it smart via its set up: it slam dunked a semi coming of age story my way, showing the promise in Suzie’s life in terms of her first lovey crush and her ambition and then…BAM… the hammer swung down (she was murdered) and I went down with the ship. Talk about depressing! I was shattered!

From that point on, the movie cranked up its purpose and became something wild and then some, working its magic on a multitude of levels. First, it played out as an exploration of loss, morning, obsession and letting go, and man did it back-hand me stupid. I actually paused the film at a certain point (yeah I got one of them Oscar screeners) to call some loved ones to tell them how much I cared for them – it affected me that much. To say that the fine performances on deck helped bring the impact home would be an understatement. The always gorgeous Rachel Weisz was in top form as usual, Rose McIver was a revelation as the younger sister but it was Mark Walhberg’s intense show that destroyed me. I connected to the man’s pain, sorrow and anger and by default was moved and involved by his plight…big time!

At the same time; the film addressed Suzie’s new digs in the afterlife and what a trip out that was. Jackson doubled down on the eye popping imagery in terms of his design mad and (top notch) CG heavy interpretation of purgatory. Vast colorful skies and fields, a eerie gazebo , spooky forests… actually reminded me of old school heavy metal album covers come to life! Pass the bong! It was one of those! And I really dug the way the environment would morph in accordance to Suzie’s state of mind – great idea, executed with flair. The bit with the boats in the giant glass bottles floored me! WOW! Finally the affair acted as a “nab the killer” opus, serving some creepy ass scene with an unrecognizable and simply amazing Stanley Tucci doing the creepy/menacing nut thing perfectly. I so wanted him to die it wasn’t even funny. Furthermore, his character sparked a couple of genius tension laced bits that put me through the ringer. Suspense works when you care about the characters and the director knows how to execute the beats; The Lovely Bones did that oh so right for me! I was actually standing up in my living room at one point, drowned in anxiousness. Jackson hasn’t lost his horror touch that’s for sure!

Add to all that dazzling camera work by Jackson (the way he blended slow motion, music and cam angles to emotionally stir me was gold), a affecting score by Brian Eno that I must own and the film’s knack at going against the grain story wise and you get a near masterpiece. On the bummer side of things; the tone juggling didn’t always work. For example, when Susan Sarandon popped up, although bang on and funny, she felt out of place. I am assuming Jackson was trying to inject levity in the mix… fair enough – it just didn't work for me. Then there was the afterlife bits, although eye popping, they were kind of just there. Not enough stakes – didn’t move the story forward or focus on Suzie’s inner struggle enough. Those bits also kind of took away from the more gripping real life action that was going on. And was I alone in getting annoyed by that Asian gal in purgatory? She bugged me until her purpose was revealed, and that was near the end. Finally, they could’ve found a better actor to play Suzie’s crush. Didn’t buy the guy!

On the whole, The Lovely Bones was a flawed yes, but mucho striving flick that hit the whore on the head more often than it missed the mark in this jerk’s opinion. It's films like this that remind me WHY I love cinema. Talent oozed out of this one and it aimed high and was not afraid to take chances. You gonna lovely them bones?

GORE
No gore here just implied nastiness. The lack of graphic red sauce didn’t bother me none. It wasn’t THAT film.
T & A
Nope! Look elsewhere (like your parents’ bedroom).
BOTTOM LINE
Looks like I’m in the minority again, being that the flick is getting pummeled by most reviewers. Oh well. As I was watching THE LOVELY BONES, al I kept thinking was “now THIS is cinema”. The picture was poignant, suspenseful and visually breathtaking. Moreover, the performances were Aces, the score astounding and Jackson was all up in that arse in terms of fly camera shots. Yup, the shizo tone didn’t always go down well, more purpose during the afterlife bits would have been swell and I didn’t boogie to two of the casting choices, but when all was said and done, I cringed, I wowed, I teared up I put a gun to my head and I appreciated living and my close ones even more – the film got me and I hope it gets you too! In a fair world, much like THE FOUNTAIN, this will be a movie that will gain appreciation and respect with time – it deserves it.
BULL'S EYE
Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz were first approached. She said yes, he said no. 'Ryan Gosling' was cast instead but eh dropped out before the shoot – creative differences. Mark Whalberg jumped in and saved the day.

Saoirse Ronan was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her work in Atonement (2007).

The film cost about $100,000,000 to make.

VISIT THE LOVELY BONES SITE HERE

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+0
4:40PM on 07/29/2010

Holy Crap ...

I had just finished watching this film 15 minutes ago and it was solid on ALL levels. I liked the purgatory girl as she acted like ... well ... a girl her age. I do see your point on Ray though.

I don't know if it's my mood but this film packed a huge emotional wallop for me kind of like the Fountain (different reasons of course) but that could be because I have two daughters and felt for Jack.

EXCELLENT JOB Peter Jackson. Movies like this deserve success well beyond Cameron's silly
I had just finished watching this film 15 minutes ago and it was solid on ALL levels. I liked the purgatory girl as she acted like ... well ... a girl her age. I do see your point on Ray though.

I don't know if it's my mood but this film packed a huge emotional wallop for me kind of like the Fountain (different reasons of course) but that could be because I have two daughters and felt for Jack.

EXCELLENT JOB Peter Jackson. Movies like this deserve success well beyond Cameron's silly latest blockbusters.
Your Reply:



8:04PM on 03/01/2010

One of my fave movies of 2009

I'm glad to NOT be the only one who loved the movie. I'm a big fan of the book (perfect 10 for me), and the movie almost lived up to it for me (9 out of a 10) and i agree with everything you say.
The movie drew me in with Saoirse Ronan who is fast becoming a new favorite of mine. She was astounding in Atonement and blew me in this film.
Great movie.
I'm glad to NOT be the only one who loved the movie. I'm a big fan of the book (perfect 10 for me), and the movie almost lived up to it for me (9 out of a 10) and i agree with everything you say.
The movie drew me in with Saoirse Ronan who is fast becoming a new favorite of mine. She was astounding in Atonement and blew me in this film.
Great movie.
Your Reply:



1:06PM on 02/23/2010

Fantastic film!

Loved the book,love the movie even more...as usual your reviews never steer me wrong.
Loved the book,love the movie even more...as usual your reviews never steer me wrong.
Your Reply:



+0
7:38AM on 02/03/2010
Excellent Movie! Great movie to start the year off with! I Encourage people to go see it!
Excellent Movie! Great movie to start the year off with! I Encourage people to go see it!
Your Reply:



12:43PM on 01/29/2010

You Must be Shrooming

Ugh god seriously? You liked this crap? I saw this and I was so utterly disappointed. Peter Jackson really bombed out big time with this garbage.
Ugh god seriously? You liked this crap? I saw this and I was so utterly disappointed. Peter Jackson really bombed out big time with this garbage.
Your Reply:



11:50PM on 01/02/2010

Mr Arrow,..

You seem unlikely first choice to review this film. Some of your catagories are inapropriate for this genre and type of movie. But on the other hand, you've given it a really excellent review; which is well written and spot-on. For this I commend you. Long live the unconventional wisdom at joblo.com!!
You seem unlikely first choice to review this film. Some of your catagories are inapropriate for this genre and type of movie. But on the other hand, you've given it a really excellent review; which is well written and spot-on. For this I commend you. Long live the unconventional wisdom at joblo.com!!
Your Reply:



1:39PM on 01/01/2010
JakeD spot on. Just writing my review of the movie and got to say it was an awesome cinematic time.

Thankfully the Arrow gets what Jackson was doing her, as opposed to the general numb buts reviewing community who need everything neon signposted for them. Have IQs dropped in critical circles or what!
JakeD spot on. Just writing my review of the movie and got to say it was an awesome cinematic time.

Thankfully the Arrow gets what Jackson was doing her, as opposed to the general numb buts reviewing community who need everything neon signposted for them. Have IQs dropped in critical circles or what!
Your Reply:



+0
2:10PM on 12/29/2009

Nice...

Sweet review Arrow, glad to see Jackson return to HEAVENLY CREATURES form. I've got the book in front of me but still haven't cracked it. And just a word about THE FOUNTAIN, I saw that shite by myself in theaters with only about 5 other people dispersed throughout the theater. Truly hit more than a film, it was a transcendent experience. Love that movie!
Sweet review Arrow, glad to see Jackson return to HEAVENLY CREATURES form. I've got the book in front of me but still haven't cracked it. And just a word about THE FOUNTAIN, I saw that shite by myself in theaters with only about 5 other people dispersed throughout the theater. Truly hit more than a film, it was a transcendent experience. Love that movie!
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