Sunday, 28 February 2010

Film Review: THE LOVELY BONES (2009)

Director: Peter Jackson
Running time: 135 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 12A

UK Release date: 19th February 2010

Watched at the cinema Saturday 27th February 2010.


I have heard and read some very mixed reviews about this film and so I was interested to see it. I guess Peter Jackson is always going to have his work compared to ‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy, and because of that it’s going to be hard for them to get the recognition that they might if directed by someone else. For the record, I am a fan of his work but I’ll try to be objective in this review.

I have not read the book by Alice Sebold, with the same title, on which this film is based, but I will at some point in the near future. Susie Salmon was fourteen when she was murdered on December 6th 1973; she has never been kissed and will never grow up. Her body is never found, but her consciousness goes to a place known as ‘the in-between’, where she watches as her family try to come to terms with her loss and also try to discover what happened to her. Her father, Jack, becomes so obsessed with finding out what happened to his daughter that he ends up in hospital having stalked a man into a field and got beaten up for his trouble. Her mother, Abigail, cannot face it all and has to take some time away from the family. Abigail’s alcoholic mother, Grandma Lynn, comes to stay while she’s away. Her sister, Lindsey, frustrated with the whole situation, focuses her attention on a neighbour, George Harvey, who she is convinced has something to do with Susie’s disappearance. Through it all, Susie watches and tries to steer them in the right direction so that they can move on, and so can she. It’s very difficult to summarise the plot without giving too much away, so I’ll leave it there, I think I told you enough to know what the film is about.

It’s a beautiful film to look at, very clear images and some wonderful production. The time period the film was set was, for me, brought across perfectly, I’m only a few years younger than Susie would have been, and I remember the early 1970’s quite well. I thought the performance from Saoirse Ronan as Susie Salmon was quite brilliant, how she wasn’t nominated for any awards is beyond me. I also thought that Stanley Tucci as the creepy neighbour, George Harvey, was also very good. Decent performances from Mark Wahlberg as Jack Salmon, Rachel Weisz as Abigail Salmon, Susan Sarandon as Grandma Lynn and Rose McIver as Lindsey Salmon, although none of them were really stretched.

There has been a lot of discussion about the depiction of ‘the in-between’. Personally, I didn’t have a problem with it; I guess whenever you adapt a book the picture in the reader’s head will seldom match the vision of the director. I have also heard that the casting of Mark Wahlberg and Rachel Weisz as Susie’s parents was wrong because they are too young. I’ve looked up their ages and I don’t have a problem with it, they maybe look a bit too young by today’s standards, but people started families a lot younger in the 50’s and 60’s. So what can I say in conclusion? I found it a little too long, but for the first hour it was totally engrossing. The visuals are stunning and there are a couple of great performances. I guess if you haven’t read the book that I can recommend it to you, it’s worth seeing. I you have read the book, then I’ll leave it up to you (it’s a cop-out I know, but I haven’t read the book… yet.)

My score: 7.1/10

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