REVIEW: The Lovely Bones

24 05 2010

I generally agree with the consensus opinion on popular books, movies, and other works, despite how you might interpret my Rotten Tomatoes average of agreement with other groups that lingers around 75%.  But every once in a while, there is that one which I just can’t seem to embrace like everyone else;  Alice Sebold’s novel “The Lovely Bones” was one that fell into that category.  I found it overly melodramatic and an unrewarding experience after enduring three hundred pages of wrenching gloominess.

Nevertheless, I went into Peter Jackson’s film adaptation of “The Lovely Bones” with an open mind.  Maybe I would be able to tap into that love that everyone felt for the book.  In a nutshell, I didn’t feel much other than apathy, a pretty pathetic feeling for a movie that involves the murder of a fourteen-year-old girl.  That’s the kind of the thing that should rattle some cages, right?  Jackson can’t get the emotions in focus, and the whole movie in turn suffers from a pervading chilly feeling.

It’s hard to capture heaven on film because no one actually knows what it looks like.  But Jackson’s vision doesn’t really align with any sort of popular conception of heaven, and it gives off all sorts of weird vibes.  At times, it gets so crazy that it almost becomes laughable, particularly when flowers bloom underneath shelves of ice.

These vibes infect and contaminate the real world, which Jackson isn’t terrible at capturing.  However, anyone who has read the book can clearly see that Jackson wanted us to sympathize more with Susie Salmon’s family as they grieve her disappearance and assumed death.  I wanted to kill Susie’s mother (played by Rachel Weisz) in the book, yet here she gets a pardon.  Her most hideous actions are simply omitted.  The role of the police investigator (Michael Imperioli) and the grandmother (Susan Sarandon) are reduced to basically cameos.

The only part of this movie that was really good was Stanley Tucci, who plays the creepy neighbor that murders Susie.  He is startling, delivering a performance that is deep and truly haunting.  As the hairs on your spine stick straight up, you will most definitely be wondering what happened to the sweet little man who made us laugh in “Julie & Julia” and “The Devil Wears Prada.”  Other than Tucci, the only other cast member who’s any good is Susan Sarandon, but she has no screen time and looks 20 years too young to be a grandmother.  Rachel Weisz can’t make us feel anything towards her character, Mark Wahlberg is too intense for his own good, and Saoirse Ronan is just awful.  She screams and cries, and I didn’t buy any of it.

The only reasons I could give for watching this movie would be to get depressed or to watch Stanley Tucci’s transformation.  The latter is the only legitimate excuse; there are much better movies to get you in a melancholy mood.  C /

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2 responses

25 05 2010
Branden

Hey, Marshall. I didn’t enjoy this movie as well. Not reading the book probably shielded me from lambasting this movie. I thought it was a hot mess of film. Disjointed.

28 05 2010
Red Georges

Good review. I enjoyed the book more than you did, and I really think that over time people will appreciate the movie more after several viewings. I was a little disappointed in it, but it was a hard concept to put on film, and I’m anxious to re-visit it.

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