Jan 242010
Authors: Laura James

Peter Jackson, the famed director of “King Kong (2005)” and the “Lord of the Rings” series, sits at the helm of one of what is sure to be many disappointing movies this year, “The Lovely Bones.”

Alice Sebold’s 2002 novel of the same name chronicles the experiences of a young girl named Susie Salmon after her brutal murder in 1973. The book was unique because it was written from the perspective of a person who had already passed on.

The movie unfortunately doesn’t capture the ethereal voice of the deceased protagonist.

This film is not the first time that Jackson has depicted a story that involves a brutal murder. In 1994 Jackson directed “Heavenly Creatures,” a true story about two young girls from New Zealand who kill one of their mothers out of revenge for their separation in 1954.

“Heavenly Creatures,” which starred a young Kate Winslet, was a dark and gritty exploration of two truly disturbed minds. It was composed and viewed through the eyes of the murderers.

“The Lovely Bones” has a different tone because Susie, the narrator and main character, was an innocent, while her murderer was a tertiary character.

The visuals in the movie used to describe the afterlife seem trite and forced. Although they are beautiful to look at, some of these scenes were never described in the book and feel as if Jackson fell back on his LOTR style.

The choppy back-and-forth between the afterlife and real life quickly gets annoying, which seriously detracts from the effectiveness of the film.
Also, Jackson’s use of repetition of images to promote the persistence of memory is bothersome. The audience doesn’t need to be badgered by the same progression of images to get that they are important.

Saoirse Ronan, whose powerhouse performance in 2008’s “Atonement” no doubt landed her the lead role in “The Lovely Bones,” does a very good job with the difficult material.

Co-stars Mark Wahlberg and Rachel Weisz play Susie’s grief-stricken parents, and Stanley Tucci departs from his repertoire by playing the prurient predator and murderer next door.

The end of the film totally falls apart and ruins what elements of the film did work. The last 15 minutes of the movie are cheesy and needless.

If you read the book and loved it, seeing a visual representation of a story that captured your imagination might be worth it.

But if you’ve never experienced the novel, there’s no reason to bore yourself with a movie that doesn’t do the book any justice.

Movie reviewer Laura James can be reached at verve@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 2:28 pm

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