Film Reviews

THE LOVELY BONES

By • Jan 18th, 2010 •

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Writers and poets have such a love affair with death and the afterlife. Death plays chess in our world in Ingmar Bergman’s THE SEVENTH SEAL and Orpheus is romanced by Death herself and travels to her world in Jean Cocteau’s version of the film ORPHEUS. Both films are solemn and glib. Peter Jackson is the latest to guide us into his lollipop version of the afterlife for a 14-year-old murdered girl in THE LOVELY BONES. It’s Disney for the Dead.

In the 70’s, a new resident pervert digs a subterranean den for killing beneath the cornfields outside of Philadelphia. George Harvey (Stanley Tucci) cowardly lures innocent defenseless Susie Salmon (Saoirse Ronanand) inside and her soul escapes, not yet understanding the mutilation its body has suffered. Susie wanders in a world watching ours, desperately trying to get back to her family. George hides under the radar in an investigation led by Michael Imperioli and converges on the path of Mark Wahlberg’s paternal revenge. Thirsting for the thrill of the kill once again, George gazes towards Susie’s sister Lindsey (Rose McIver).

The Salmon household is shattered as both parents react to their daughter’s death differently and their bond falls apart. Mark Wahlberg immerses himself in an investigation to catch the predator and his wife (Rachel Weisz) flees to California to work in the fields as a day laborer. The Mother-in-law (Susan Sarandon) is a drunk who adds some comedy to a tense situation.

This is where the film is at a loss. It is unbelievable that the mother just upped and left to work with migrant field workers. Sarandon’s character really adds nothing except time to the 135-minute film that should be trimmed by at least 15 minutes. It was as if Sarandon had a cameo role and Weisz decided to leave the set and return for one last scene. The third act is rather drawn out. And Susie’s love interest looks much older than she, and he comes off rather creepy. A while back I saw the trailer for the film and believe it is he who exclaimed that he did not kill Susie, yet this does not appear in the film.

As the 14-year-old wanders in LaLa Land, Susie wishes herself back in the room where Sean Cassidy is plastered along the walls and the memories of her first romance, only to be jaded by her murder, causing her much angst. Her world is filled with color. Dazzling

sun-filled days seamlessly mesh adjacently to star-bright nights, and all of earth-bound realities and laws of physics are suspended. Susie encounters a young girl with the message “Don’t look back.” She continues to hold on and witnesses that her actions manipulate the world in which she is now only a memory. Her father looks out into the night and faintly hears and sees her. Hysteria and anger overtake him and he smashes the dozens of ships in bottles that he and his daughter spent time building. His violent actions and emotions appear on the shore in the afterlife as large ships in bottles float close to the shore and begin to smash and sink in this magnificent CGI world.

The acting is first rate. At first, I didn’t recognize Tucci. He transformed into a pedophile. His character has such depth. He portrays the concerned citizen to the police, he gives off a menacing evil look that causes girls to shudder, and he deploys so much by doing so little in terms of dialogue. He is neighborhood creep, concerned citizen, friendly neighbor, reclusive clean freak, unassuming man in the mall, and meek mild-mannered somewhat bumbling fool. He is deserving of an Oscar.

The film combines action, drama, and suspense in a world of wonderment, juxtaposed against the bleakness of the cold northeast. Did you read the book? I did not and those that have are criticizing the script for its lack of depth and simplification of the characters. Susan Sarandon is one that is harping about her limited role. This is true for so many films. For instance, ANNA KARENINA is stripped to its barest and loses what Tolstoy’s 800+ page epic brings forth. However, a film is meant to stand alone. To all of those moaning about this, please present your script.

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