Review: The Lovely Bones (2009)
Peter Jackson defangs Alice Sebold’s bestseller
Born as an only child in a small coast-side town, Peter Jackson loved to take photos; soon after at the age of eight he instantly began to make films with his friends using his first 8mm movie camera. His passion to take photos resembled an innocence that he had as a child – it is as if he is being portrayed through the little girl in Alice Sebold’s bestseller The Lovely Bones. It’s not as disturbing as it is soothing to watch an imagination of the teenage victim living on, whilst watching over her family – and her murderer – from a weird but almost heaven-like limb. She cannot truly move on until her loved ones overcome their grief and find closure. And then, once they have gained closure, she is united with the other victims, stepping into heaven which appears to be an endless meadow. (And the killer? When he dies? What happens to him? Does he “see” in the end? Maybe he goes to a different but less nice meadow. Or maybe the movie believes in hell as it has mentioned heaven – but left the death of the murderer at a cliff hanger for the minds of everyone else to ponder about what will happen to him.)
It’s certainly a surprising story: it’s meant to be gruesome because of the victim being murdered but with a mix of sweet heaven like outcome. Saoirse Ronan who plays Susie Salmon, a teenage girl in the 1970’s who is murdered by her neighbour, played by Stanley Tucci. Her spirit wonders amongst the streets of her home town after the initial attack incapable of grasping the fact that she is dead, she is desperately looking for her family. Unable o find anyone, she has visions of her murderer in a bath tub, cleansing himself of her blood, as his expression shows that he is gloating over his horrific crime. She comes to realise that she has in fact been murdered; she then is unexpectedly drawn into the limbo in which she resides in throughout the movie. Susie’s spirit visits her family even though she is not meant to look back but carry on forward – heaven. She watches as her family are not coping well because of her thirst for vengeance and as she decides to let go and move forward, her family begins to find closure in their loss.
As a Peter Jackson movie it had impressive fantasy images. They plot was great and the actors were great too, but the closure of the family has not quite been explained in the film because it escapes moral understanding. They got over the crime in less than half the time it took them to grieve about it, which made the perfect family look phoney, when in this world, the victim’s loved ones never can completely get over the crime? The Lovely Bones had the potential to be a great movie but it was not as strong or as powerful as it could have been.
The most attention grabbing part of the movie is the murder of the girl. That is when the movie is at its most powerful. The film works when it is focused around the family after the daughter dies. The different ways of the family grieving and coping with the loss of a daughter captivates the audience. Mark Walhberg as the grieving father and Rachel Weisz as the mother that runs away to cope are all believable. Stanley Tucci as the murderer played his part very well but the audience could not sense the ‘Monster’. Why? Because the murder scene did not go into as much depth as it should have. Sometimes something’s are shown that don’t need to be shown and sometimes it’s best to leave it to the imagination; but in the movie the murder scene where Stanley Tucci murders the little girl is not shown and that’s why the film was weak. The audience is given the knowledge that Susie has been murdered but the movie doesn’t let the audience experience it leaving out the key element. For the audience to feel the monster that Stanley Tucci is, it is believed that the audience needed to see the murder of the little girl to experience it. This is how the audience could have gotten a better sense of the depth of the family’s pain, the depth of the murdered little girl’s anger and the monster that Stanley Tucci really is. He came across as a creepo rather than the monster he was meant to portray. The film in the end is a solid movie but certainly not a great movie.