January 15, 2010
Review - " The Lovely Bones " - (in theaters) By Roland Hansen
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Weisz). She's on her way home that fateful afternoon when she runs into Mr. Harvey (Stanley Tucci), a man she recognizes
from the community, who wants to show her something neat he's made for the neighborhood kids. She is doomed. She knows
who killed her, and what happened to her body - but no one else does.
A year passes with no leads in the case. Jack has taken a hands-on approach, pestering the sympathetic police detective,
Fenerman (Michael Imperioli), with hunches and clues about who may have killed his daughter. Abigail has taken the
opposite approach, sealing off Susie's bedroom and living in denial. Jack and Abigail's marriage is strained. Her mother,
boozy old Grandma Lynn (Susan Sarandon), arrives to help take care of the other children, Lindsey (Rose McIver) and
Buckley (Christian Thomas Ashdale). All the while, Mr. Harvey continues to live in the neighborhood, unsuspected.
Wahlberg and Rachel Weisz sympathetic as her grieving parents. The always sublime Susan Sarandon as free-spirited,
intellectual alchoholic Grandma Lynn, and perky newcomer Christian Thomas Ashdale as Susie's little brother, steal some
scenes. Rose McIver is excellent as the slightly younger, but much tougher, sister. Finally Michael Imperioli, as the detective
on the case, is underutilized but solid overall. As the killer, Stanley Tucci walks the line between creepiness and a parody of
creepiness - but ultimately lands on the unsettling side. You can imagine finding him harmless just as easily as you can
imagine being murdered by him. Tucci's murderer is a blatantly odd loner whose motivation is never explored (and it doesn't
need to be). In spite of its inherently eerie themes - homicide, phantoms, and vengeance-fueled grief - Harvey is the only
truly scary thing in the movie and Tucci thankfully makes the most of it.
The film's mystical elements, including Susie's afterlife and some brief connections between the spirit world and our world, are
shot with Jackson's famed eye for wonder and magic. While it is not the disaster that some have described, “The Lovely
Bones” is an odd and sometimes dispiriting movie that lurches wildly between wishful fantasy and gritty crime procedural. The
trailer makes it seem as though The Lovely Bones is an unrelenting murder mystery, with slain Susie spearheading an urgent
investigation. It's not. There are a couple of notable exceptions in the form of effective, gripping moments which include the
girl's realization that she's lost her life, and her discovery of the killer's previous victims lying in their makeshift graves is
I'll be honest, I'm in two minds about this one,
I enjoyed the movie and some sections were
classic Peter Jackson, but I was left feeling it
could have been so much more. The movie
felt overlong with lengthy forays into the
fantasy world of 'the in between'. There are
many mentions of "connections" between
reality and the after-life that are never
explored and in the final analysis come to
nothing. In the end "The Lovely Bones" is a
beautifully shot fantasy movie that doesn't
quite find what it's searching for.
The Lovely Bones
Directed By: Peter Jackson
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Reece Ritchie, Mark Wahlberg, Rachel
Weisz, Susan Sarandon, Stanley Tucci, Rose McIver, Christian
Susie Salmon, the goofy-named girl at the center of the very serious
"The Lovely Bones," tells us her fate right off the bat: "I was 14 years
old when I was murdered, on Dec. 6, 1973."
Played by Saoirse Ronan ("Atonement") in this adaptation of Alice
Sebold's popular 2002 novel, Susie narrates the film from beyond the
grave. She's in a beautiful, computer-generated wonderland, a sort of
pre-heaven for people who are still somehow attached to the world.
Susie's lingering is due to the fact that her killer has not been caught,
leaving her and her family without closure. The question is whether
they can move on without having that final piece of the puzzle. Maybe it
wouldn't help anyway.
That's a somber topic for a movie, but this story isn't about the
sadness of Susie's death so much as the hopefulness that can
eventually arise out of such sadness. But though that message is
expressed in the end, the film doesn't entirely live up to its emotional
potential. We ought to feel the same epiphanies that Susie and her
parents feel, not just have them described to us. You may leave the
film still wanting some closure. I sure did.
In life, Susie is an ordinary girl. Flashbacks show her budding interest
in photography, her crush on a boy at school (Reece Ritchie), her little
quarrels with her parents, Jack (Mark Wahlberg) and Abigail (Rachel
This is Peter Jackson's 10th feature film.
Though he's a good director overall, you
can see where his expertise really shines
through: in tense sequences involving the
possible discovery of Mr. Harvey's deeds.
Those are liable to make you wish the film
really were the mystery-thriller it at first
appears to be, rather than the grief drama it
The performances are all spot-on.
Fifteen-year-old Saoirse Ronan, already an
Oscar nominee for "Atonement," is
impressively mature as Susie, Saoirse gives
depth and dimension to what is basically an
unfinished character, a young woman whose
identity was just beginning to immerge. With