Review: The Lovely Bones
PLOT: It was a cold day in December when Susie Salmon was murdered. Only fourteen-years-old, she naively falls victim to a vicious predator. But that is where the story begins. When she finds herself in a place that is magical and mysterious somewhere between heaven and earth, she begins to reach out to the family she left behind. Meanwhile, her father continues searching to find the beast that took his daughter away. And when a neighbor begins acting suspicious, the Salmon family move closer to finding an answer, while their dearly departed daughter learns to hopefully move on.
Peter Jackson has once again created a visually stunning work of art. THE LOVELY BONES, based on the novel by Alice Sebold, is a sometimes whimsical, sometimes heartbreaking and oftentimes chilling tale of moving on. Like the novel, it tells the story of young Susie Salmon who is brutally murdered, but death is not the end. Our heroine finds herself in a world that would make The Little Prince proud. It is a place where the vast ocean can easily transform itself into a desert landscape, basically, it can do whatever Mr. Jackson can dream of. It is part WHAT DREAMS MAY COME and part PAPERHOUSE. It is a mystic world that Susie finds herself in, while those she left behind are mourning the loss of their precious child. But even in her state of in-between, there is a darkness brewing, as the man who took her life is still waiting and watching, even fixing his eye upon another victim.
Now for the sad news, not all is perfect in Bones. While this is such a visual treat, something is lost in translation. With such a talented cast including Mark Wahlberg as dad, Rachel Weisz as mom and Susan Sarandon as grandma, much of their story has been left behind on the cutting room floor. Already quite a long film, much of the human drama is only hinted at. That being said, it is very difficult to translate a novel that is so rich in character, but Mr. Jackson has accomplished this before with LORD OF THE RINGS, so why not here? As beautiful as the dream world he has created for much of the film is, part of the magic is lessened without the detail of the Salmon family. Yet the performances here, including the bright and shining star that is Saoirse Ronan as Susie, are all terrific. Ms. Sarandon is also in top form, yet her very detailed role has become simply comic relief to a certain extent. The same can be said for Ms. Weisz, as her story arc has also been cut.
After I watched The Lovely Bones, I had to think about what I had just witnessed. My first instincts were, absolutely wonderful, simply beautiful. I had a very strong reaction, as I watched the disturbingly real performance from Stanley Tucci as the monstrous murderer. The moment he shares with Susie is absolutely disturbing, although it certainly doesnt go into the detail that the novel did, but it is unnerving nonetheless. There were so many thoughts and emotions that ran through my head. As I mentioned, I felt that there were too many details missing from the story, yet I was still moved. Ronan is an absolute delight, and when she is terrified or sad, you feel it. This is a wonderful performance, and it would have been nice to see the family represented just a little better. Still, it is a very emotional ride, just not as grand in the sense of story as I was hoping it would be.
The surreal and striking images here really are wonderful, but as good as they are, the story feels uneven. Still, there is something special here. In this day and age when much of what we see feels recycled and dull, how refreshing it is to see something take a chance. Even if it doesnt always work. It is so much more challenging to create something new and fresh and really take a chance. The Lovely Bones was such a novel that something was bound to ignite some anger for its fans. As flawed as Peter's vision might be, it is still quite a satisfying two hours or more in the cinema. And there is an honest to goodness feeling that somehow, he was still able to give a sense of what the source material was about. Even when he strays from the family, I understood the reason and they rhyme of all that was happening to this young girl. All was not lost. In the end, Peter Jackson has created a film full of life, even when it is drenched in death. It may not be perfect, but Susies story will surely resonate for a long time. My rating 7.5/10 -- JimmyO
CLICK IMAGE TO OPEN GALLERY & SEE MORE PICS...