Movie Review: The Lovely Bones

Of this much we can be sure: It was the 1970s. A movie with an advertised synopsis telling us, "...a young girl who has been murdered...", spends most of the first act (half an hour or more?) establishing the time period with various, attentive details with the should-be-dead-girl walking around alive. How a movie based on a book can get so lost in itself in confounding.

The movie, directed by Peter Jackson, hits some plot points in common with the novel, but grinds off all the sharp edges, leaving us in a PG-13 mess. Jackson left the audience to imagine what was done to wide-eyed, whispering Susie (Saoirse Ronan), reducing the found evidence from body parts to just blood. Yet it was necessary to have us watch Susie's father (Wahlberg) get beat savagely by a high school jock & watch the killer's death blow for CGI blow. An affair between the detective and the mother is ever so slightly hinted upon, but never actually occurs, and we learn nothing of the detective or serial killer George Harvey's (Stanley Tucci giving a nice, creepster showing) background, leaving them as both stock characters. There was time for an extended montage of funny with Gramma Sarandon, though!

The glimpses we catch of life after Susie's death are like ripples from a skipping stone on a still lake. No depth at each point, only the faintest disturbance. The film fails to decide just what sort of movie it wants to be, drawing themes of loss & obsession, as well as gimmicks, from various supernatural movies and shows (What Dreams May Come, 6th Sense, hell I half expected Beetlejuice) and turning them into a wet-noodle by which the audience is repeatedly thrashed.

Other observations:

So heaven is spending eternity with other victims of your murderer, in a place that looks like where you were murdered? I thought Hell was other people.

What's the difference between Heaven & the in-between place? More people, less surrealist backgrounds.

How many years did it take for Susie to move on, exactly? Their were 24 rolls of film, so 1 a month to develop would make it two years, yet more time than that seemed to have passed for little sister Lindsey.

The forced sense of cosmic justice when Harvey dies. Some people in the audience cheered (ugh) because the universe finally gave him his comeuppance - after killing 9 people over 13 years.

Story does provide a sinkhole business model for Tampa Bay area to consider given recent events.

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