Murder Most Foul
After a 14-year-old girl is killed in The Lovely Bones, her spirit tries to communicate with the living from a fantastic new afterlife world. “I hope more teenagers won’t consider suicide because of the way life after death is depicted in this movie,” my husband complained as we left the multiplex. He has a point, but I’m also bothered about how incongruous the mixing of colorful fantasy and serial killing comes across in this Peter Jackson film. I usually applaud Jackson’s wonderful fantasy movies. The Lord of the Rings and its two sequels are masterpieces in my book. So, of course, my expectations for The Lovely Bones may have been too high.
Based on Alice Sebold’s touching novel, The Lovely Bones features a fine cast including Saoirse Ronan (Atonement), Mark Wahlberg (Shooter), Rachel Weisz (The Fountain), Stanley Tucci (Julie & Julia) and Susan Sarandon (Enchanted). Ronan plays Susie, the teenager who meets such a violent end. Wahlberg and Weisz portray her grieving parents; Sarandon is the boozy grandmother called in to lend a hand and Tucci has the villain’s role -- a neighbor skilled at luring young girls into to his murderous web.
While the actors deliver quality performances in The Lovely Bones, they can’t save this overblown film, mostly because it seems more interested in painting the afterlife as a cinematic wonderland for teens than in telling the brutal story of a horrible rape and murder. Yes, the killer makes us shudder with disgust, and our hearts go out to Susie’s family and friends -- but, over and over again, we are jolted into disbelief as the screen fills with glorious colors and images in the afterlife sequences.
Like The Time Traveler’s Wife, The Lovely Bones probably lends itself more to page than screen. I found Sebold’s novel both riveting and creative. The film version, however, left me feeling disappointed and, quite frankly, annoyed. (Capsule review)
(Released by DreamWorks and rated “PG-13” for mature thematic material involving disturbing violent content and images, and some language. )
For more information about this movie, go to the Internet Movie Data Base or Rotten Tomatoes website.