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Review of Movie The Lovely Bones, Starring Saoirse Ronan, Stanley Tucci, Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz

The Lovely Bones: A Fractured Fairy Tale

I've long questioned Hollywood's desire to bring Alice Sebold's novel The Lovely Bones to the big screen. The book itself delicately straddles tragedy and beauty in its first-person account of a 14-year-old girl who is murdered and watches her family's unraveling from Heaven. Though I held out hope that Peter Jackson would be able to balance the same themes, it was all for naught: his big-screen version of The Lovely Bones is ambitious, but irredeemably disturbing.

I'd heard that Jackson left out the fact that his main character, Susie Salmon (played by Saoirse Ronan), is raped in the book, and that the murder occurs offscreen, which made a certain amount of sense — it's not necessary to show either to convince you that her ordeal is terrifying. But after seeing the film, it baffles me that Jackson chose to include other grisly scenes and imagery. What's even more questionable is the portrayal of Susie's "in-between" — her purgatory on the way to Heaven that's sometimes a perfect world and other times hellish.

Had Jackson chosen instead to focus on the ordeal of the Salmon family after Susie's departure — the most compelling part of the movie — I think he would have had a chance at making something more powerful. To see what I mean, just



Susie's cartoonish in-between detracts from the performances of her family members back on earth, particularly Mark Wahlberg's. As her anguished father who is coping with Susie's murder by hunting for clues, Wahlberg impresses more than costar Stanley Tucci, who earned a Golden Globe nomination for the role. Tucci's portrayal of Mr. Harvey, I'm sad to say, goes over the top — with his obvious wig, facial prosthetics and unintentionally goofy laugh, it borders on caricature.

Susan Sarandon appears solely to steal scenes as the family's pill-popping, boozehound Grandma, imparting a lightness on the film that Susie's world tries for, but fails to convey. Indeed, when the focus shifts away from the supernatural to document the fissures that afflict the Salmon family, we get somewhere. Just as quickly, though, those scenes of substance are pulled away from you, and we're back to Susie's confounding half-life.

Instead of spending so much time on a nightmarish land of CGI, Jackson should have worried more about giving the characters more satisfying scenes of closure — that's what would have made the audience feel better about Susie's fate.

Photo courtesy of Dreamworks

Liss1 Liss1 7 years
I read the book and loved it, but was very disappointed in the movie. It had nothing to do with them leaving out the rape, that was understandable. But a big part of the book was lindsey's relationship with sam and how that helped her and how susie kind of lived through her, since she didn't get to enjoy that part of her life. So i didn't like how they basically left that out. They showed them kissing once and then showed him again at the end. I just thought it was weird, i know they only have a certain amount of time but the could have cut somethings (like long scenery scenes in the in-between) and put that it. Also it bothered me how Mr. Harvey got rid of the body at the end of the movie and in the book he got rid of it right away.
supertramp supertramp 7 years
The first time I seen the previews, I just had to read the book. After reading the book, I knew that the film could not live up to such expectations. I seen the film three weeks ago and am still raging. I honestly cannot see it as a film, I judge it by how different it is from the book, and that is all. It changed too much. To not include the rape scene, although respectable, was a mistake. Jackson could have at least kept the dialogue from the book that leads up to that event because those words from Mr. Harvey are some of the most terrifying I have ever heard. Sadly, that specific dialogue was greatly changed. I honestly cannot stand this film, and I so desperately wanted to love it.
Happsmjc Happsmjc 7 years
II did not dislike the movie at all. I had heard bad reviews and was prepared to, but was pleasantly surprised. I loved the book, so I feel if you like the book its worth it to watch the movie just to spend some more time with these characters. Those who had not seen the book did not like the movie at all. After the movie I reread the book and still liked the movie, I realized the movie left things out (such as the affair with the mother etc.) but I in no way think the rape was left out--its common sense what happened in that respect and I think it didn't need to be "seen". I explained to my friend, the movie Hounddog (or whatever that Dakata Fanning movie was) was panned because of the rape scene shown with the young girl and older man--I think it was totally right to leave that out, same with the murder--I think its clear what happens and the movie did not need to show it--it is NOT a horror film and its one thing to read those words and another to see them on the screen. I loved how they portrayed that. As for the in-between there is controversy how its portrayed in the book as well as in the movie, I think it would have been hard to depict an in between with a high school without being "cartoonish" to get the point across. And after re-reading the book he included most aspects (dogs, bands, snow, etc) he just left out the older intake lady. I have to disagree about Saoirse, she is one of my favorite actresses, loved her in atonement and thought she played Susie just as she was written. I thought the girl who played the older sister was awesome too--and I didn't know that was Stanley Tucci until the end! Overall, I was not disappointed (especially after the reviews) It probably won't be a movie I watch and rewatch over and over but I think for a difficult book to make into a movie this was well done.
ravenvixen ravenvixen 7 years
I haven't watched the movie yet but in light of this review, I am even more excited to see it this weekend. the "in-between" may not make sense to some people but when I read the book, I thought it was a story about coping up with what happened and accepting the facts..not only her family's ordeal but also Susie's...she also struggled with accepting that she could never be with her family anymore, that it's taken a looooong time to find her body and figure out her killer and I think that the "in-between" will represent that ( i really hope so!) . and I think that's why Mr. Harvey was never convicted (or even arrested) for her murder, coz it'll take away the focus on the main issue.
totonlaura totonlaura 7 years
After reading your reviews I think I'll read the book first and wait to rent the movie..
tarabara1229 tarabara1229 7 years
Oops, I meant "though" and not "thought."
tarabara1229 tarabara1229 7 years
I agree with you Buzz. Saw it last month and I was disappointed. There was too much of the in-between and I kept thinking, get on with the story already! It was way too long. I thought Stanley Tucci's performance was alright, but he was far better in Julie & Julia. And thought I loved Saoirse Ronan in Atonement, I was really annoyed with her slow, breathy voice (maybe it was to hide her accent??). Anyway, I'd skip the theaters and wait for DVD.
J-Rabbit J-Rabbit 7 years
I've read the book and saw the movie. Like most books that are turned into movies, there are major differences, but I think the movie version of The Lovely Bones is pretty solid. No, the movie doesn't outright say (or show) that she was raped, but I think it's pretty obvious. And I didn't think Stanley Tucci's performance or the "in-between" was that bad, but I completely agree that Susan Sarandon is a scene stealer. Overall, I think it's definitely worth renting if not going to the movies to see.
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