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Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Lovely Bones

(Guest Review by Russ)

Q: What’s the movie about?

A: Based on the bestselling novel by Alice Sebold, a young girl watches over her family and the man who murdered her from a place called ‘the inbetween’, which isn’t quite heaven but will lead her there if she can find a way to let go of her mortal life.

Q: Who’s in the movie?

A: Saoirse Ronan, Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz, Susan Sarandon, Stanley Tucci, Michael Imperioli, Rose McIver, Reece Ritchie, Nikki SooHoo, Carolyn Dando

Q: Is this movie worth the price of admission?

A: PhotobucketProceed with Caution. If you were a fan of the book (I was), little might keep you away from this big-budget adaptation, but you may want to keep your expectations in check. There is a lot that’s flat-out excellent about this movie, but too much of it misses the mark not only as an adaptation but also as a stand-alone film (i.e. as if the book had never existed).

Q: Will this movie make me laugh?

A: Hmm, let’s see, it’s about a 14 year old girl who is raped and murdered and the devastation that leaves behind. I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say: no laughs.

Q: Will this movie make me cry?

A: Probably. Mostly in the first twenty minutes though.

Q: Will this movie be up for any awards?

A: Very possibly, with its best odds in the acting categories.

Q: How is the Acting?

A: If you saw Atonement and had any doubts left at that point that Saoirse Ronan was a budding star, then The Lovely Bones will remove them. She is the real deal and even starring opposite fellow Oscar nominees (and winners) like Rachel Weisz, Wahlberg and Sarandon, she still stands out. Mark Wahlberg and Stanley Tucci (both perfectly cast) make lasting impressions mainly due to the fact they have more screen time and their characters are better written than the adult women. Rose McIver as Susie’s little sister Lindsey, is also excellent in a supporting role that gains in importance as the story unfolds.

Q: How is the Directing?

A: I’m not entirely convinced Peter Jackson was the best director for this material. For every amazing visual he puts on screen (and there are quite a few of them, both overblown and subtle), there are a plethora of others that make little sense in Susie’s ‘inbetween’ world. I’m sure he’s trying to keep his stable of New Zealand CGI-wizards busy between massive-spectacle films, but this story never needed these kinds of visual effects to make what at heart is an emotional story about a suburban family in 1973, work. When his visuals do resonate however, they are a sight to behold and not only look stunning, but also serve the emotion of the story (or scene) in spectacular ways.

Q: How is the story/script?

A: It’s hard to understand some of the choices that were made in this adaptation, which shifts the weight of the main themes of the book from its emotional gut-punch into a more suspense-style thriller (and also telescopes the story by years). The first twenty minutes are near perfection in all aspects of filmmaking (and in rewarding fans of the book), but the script then goes a bit awry without fully going off the rails. There is still plenty of emotion in Susie Salmon’s journey, but it’s blunted by a disjointed structure that tries to shift the tone into something more akin to Hitchcock by way of Ghost. So much of this movie works and still delivers on a satisfying ending, but too much is just a bit off. Which is a shame, because it should have been a homerun when starting with such a great book and with this kind of talent both behind and in front of the cameras. I’m still convinced a brilliant movie could be made from Alice Sebold’s work; this version just isn’t it.

Q: Where can I see the trailer?


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