Review: The Lovely Bones

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Title: The Lovely Bones
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director: Peter Jackson
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Stanley Tucci
Runtime: 2 hours 16 minutes

What It Is? Based on the 2002 best-seller by Alice Sebold. Our story follows a girl named Susie last name Salmon. Susie (Ronan) is a fourteen year old girl living in 1970’s Pennsylvania, she lives at home with her father Jack (Mark Wahlberg), mother Abigail(Rachel Weisz), and siblings Buckley, and Lindsay. Susie lives a happy life until December 6th, 1973. It is on this date where Susie’s life ends. After her weekly film club meeting Susie is met at her locker by fellow club member Ray Singh. Singh has long been Susie’s crush, he slips a note into one of her textbooks instructing her to meet him at the gazebos in the mall on Saturday. Sadly for Susie that will never happen. On her way home from the club meeting, and conversation with Ray she takes her usual shortcut through the cornfields. The note which Ray placed in the book falls out and is taken by the wind. Waiting for Susie in the field is her neighbor George Harvey (Stanley Tucci). George convinces Susie to “check out” the underground bunker he says he built for the children of the neighborhood. In reality George built this to encapsulate Susie. Once he coaxes her inside she never leaves. It is here our story truly begins as we see the Salmon’s deal with the loss of Susie, something her father refuses to let go of. The only clue the detective or the Salmon’s have to Susie’s whereabouts is the beanie she was wearing…in the now burnt up shell of the room…covered in blood. Susie, now in the in-between world must try to guide her family to George Harvey, while trying not to allow her feelings of vengeance to take over.

What We Think? Having never read the source material I didn’t know what to expect. However what I got was a pretty good film, but one that struggles with its identity at certain points. While Jackson’s affinity for special effects was a sight to see often times it took away from the narrative, and withdrew the viewers from the compelling murder mystery that lies at the heart of this film. While I understand his need to establish this “in-between” land it felt like he went to the well one too many times. We’re taken out of this great mystery, and into the land of wonderment, but while we’re there it seems like a disconnect. Our stories plane is also uneven. The first 30 minutes are brilliant, as are the last thirty what happens in between is where the movie tend to struggle. Certain pieces don’t quite fit into the overall puzzle like they should, and some of the scene seem to be lost. One example is Susie’s mother Abigail who for no clearly explained reason leaves to work as a migrant worker on a California farm.

Our Grade: B+, Extraordinary performances from Ronan and Tucci really catapult Sebold’s world into vision. However Wahlberg is flat, though slightly less here then in other performances. It’s as though he lacks the ability to truly convey emotion. If you can get past the CGI overload, and stay focused on the main narratives central theme you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the story within. Definitely check this one out, whether you’re a fan of the novel or not.

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