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The Lovely Bones (2010)

The director that brought us the epic trilogy dubbed The Lord of the Rings makes an attempt to put another novel on the big screen. Unfortunately, the success from Peter Jackson’s previous project did not transfer over onto this film. The Lovely Bones originally written by novelist Alice Sebold which was published in 2002 tells a tragic tale of a teenage girl who was murdered during the 1970’s in Pennsylvania.

Susie Salmon (Saoirse Ronan) is a 14-year old aspiring photographer who lives in Norristown, Pennsylvania with her family; her father Jack (Mark Wahlberg), mother Abigail (Rachel Weisz), and her brother and sister, Buckley and Lindsey (Christian Thomas Ashdale & Rose McIver). One day on a walk home from school she takes a shortcut through a cornfield and encounters her quiet but odd neighbor George Harvey (Stanley Tucci).

After that encounter, she is never heard from again. Her death places her soul in a place that is not exactly heaven but not completely Earth either. She refers to it as the in-between. While there, she is able to look upon her family and friends as they try to cope with her death as they go on about their lives.

Her father, Jack, becomes consumed with solving her case feeling the police are not trying hard enough in their investigation. The story goes on to show the impact that all of this has on her family and how it is affecting her while in an otherworldly state.

Unfortunately, I have not read the novel but understand that it received the highest acclaims for its original story and portrayal of the main character while lingering in limbo. Having did read the synopsis of the book, I can understand why it did way better than the film. It contains other aspects of the story which adds to the drama of the plot and heightens the intensity of the emotion in which it sets out to convey to the reader. The film unfortunately did not contain all of these aspects despite its two hour and 15 minute run time.

I felt the worst portions of the movie were the way the in-between world that Susie resides in while her family suffers after her death was presented. Though visually stimulating with good CGI special effects, it felt like it was way out there despite showcasing happy, child-like fantasy environments and the melodrama and sad tone of the film. The set production might have simply been following what was created in the novel but it still kind of seemed random and out of place.

The best aspect of the film was Stanley Tucci. Yes, he has already received many accolades including numerous award nominations for his creepy and sinister portrayal of the evil Mr. Harvey, but it is well deserved. Although I enjoyed Mark Wahlberg and Rachel Weisz’s performances as well, I think Tucci’s acting job was the best.

Truthfully only one scene in the entire film had me about half-way filled with suspense and it contained Rose Iver who plays Lindsey and of course Tucci. The rest of the film seemed to drag on at many points. Susie, after being killed, makes a connection with a classmate of hers, Ruth (Carolyn Dando), who seems to feel her emotions and thoughts. But that part of the story is a little confusing to me.

Overall, the film had room to expand on its story that would have made it a lot more interesting especially if it incorporated more of the plot that was included in the novel itself. Appreciating the drama that was included and the emotional presence of a family experiencing a tragedy within their family, I still feel it had more to offer than was actually shown. I give The Lovely Bones “2 after death other-worldly experiences out of 5”.

“I wasn't lost, or frozen, or gone... I was alive; I was alive in my own perfect world.”


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