A Great Big Beautiful Mess: THE LOVELY BONES
Susie Salmon (Saoirse Ronan) is a bright eyed adolescent who lives with her loving family in a suburb of Philadelphia. One afternoon, she is lured away by her nebbish neighbor, Mr. Harvey (Stanley Tucci), who kills her and hides her body. Susie's spirit, however, stays trapped between this world and the next, and as such she spends time watching her family mourn and deal with their loss, as well as keeping an otherworldly eye on her killer. While this premise works well in the novel, it does not satisfy on the screen.
Clearly, Jackson can't seem to make up his mind concerning the story he wants to tell. Is this a revenge tale? A ghost story? A meditation on life after death? Or maybe it's a comedy (and that might explain Susan Sarandon's over the top performance as Susie's boozing, chain smoking grandmother - what movie was she supposed to be in?) .
In spite of all of this, there are some downright gorgeous moments in the film - I was especially mesmerized by Susie's personal heaven. Of course, considering that Jackson works so well in the fantasy genre, that was expected.
Most of the performances are pretty good, Tucci is perfect as the namby-pamby monster next door, Mark Wahlberg is (surprisingly) decent as the grieving, revenge obsessed father, and Rachel Weisz brings a quiet sense of longing to her role as the mother. However, it is Ronan who owns this film, she is one fantastic young actress and manages to do that rare thing by bringing believability to a role that would be tough for most to tackle.
Despite the good acting, and the stunning visuals, The Lovely Bones really never catches fire, and that's too bad. I would highly recommend that if you have not already, pick up a copy of the novel first, and then compare it to the film. Like the heroine of this tale, they are worlds apart.