Director: Peter Jackson
Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz, Stanley Tucci, Susan Sarandon, Michael Imperioli
You guys remember Peter Jackson, right? The guy who made the very successful Lord Of The Rings trilogy and remade King Kong. Well, he always wants to make a big impact on the silver screen, though this time around it's something more low key.
The Lovely Bones, based on the novel by Alice Sebold, tells the story of Susie Salmon, a 14 year old girl in the 70s who lived a happy life. She has a loving family and spends her time taking pictures with her trusty camera. She had everything going for her, until the day she died.
Susie narrates the entire film as she speaks of herself, her family, her crush and of course, the day she died. She was killed by her neighbour, George Harvey, who in essence is a serial killer. Her parents' marriage suffers because of the tragedy, as Susie's father becomes obsessed with finding the culprit.
But Susie doesn't only talk about the impact of her death on her family, she also talks about her experiences in the afterlife. She is in a strange world that keeps changing day by day, sometimes it is as beautiful as heaven, and other times it reflects the darkness that shadows her brutal murder. As her family deals with their loss, Susie herself must face the choice of letting her past go or finding justice.
If there's one thing that Jackson hasn't changed from then till now, it's his meticulous storytelling. Jackson takes great measures in giving the audience every gesture, word and thought that he can milk out of his script, coincidentally written by his frequent collaborators Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens. This results in a very detailed and character driven film, and with the visual effects he uses to display Susie's world in the afterlife, his storytelling force is obviously multiplied threefold.
Saoirse Ronan gives a memorable performance as Susie. What I like about her are her eyes, which are bright and stunning, and it immediately gets your attention. It also helps that she is truly a talented actress. She will go far in this industry with the right roles. Mark Wahlberg and Rachel Weisz provide great support as Susie's parents while Susan Sarandon is also effective as Susie's weird but well meaning grandmother, Lynn. Stanley Tucci stands out though as the killer George Harvey. With a few cosmetic changes, Tucci does a splendid job in making himself look different than the way we usually remember him, and is very convincing in being the mysterious neighbour that creeps you out every time you look at him.
But now, it's time for me to tell you what didn't work. It's the overall pace. Like I said, Jackson is meticulous, kinda like how he put in a very lengthy ending for The Return Of The King. Well here, he fits in a lot of detail on Susie's experiences in the afterlife. It just goes on and on and on. And on. Then when we get to the climax, he does it again, and it just didn't make sense to me. And the way the family and Susie get their closure is rather anti-climactic, not to mention the fate received by George Harvey. It's like you waited the whole film for a big payoff, and it just doesn't happen. I suppose this story is different in the sense that it's about a murder from the victim's point of view and not the killer's, but in any case, Jackson needs to learn a thing or two about editing, because his pace here just ruined the rating I was ready to give him when I was halfway done.
If anything, The Lovely Bones provides some solid performances and pretty CGI. But try not to watch this if you're tired. (3.5/5)