Sunday, March 20, 2011

Book to Movie: The Lovely Bones

Photobucket Summary: Director Peter Jackson takes a personal, risky leap in his direction of the film version of Alice Sebold's bestselling novel The Lovely Bones. Yet the leap pays off, in emotional depth and riveting visuals that transport the viewer to other worlds--even ones the viewer may not want to visit. The Lovely Bones is lofted by its star-making performance by the young Saoirse Ronan (Atonement), who plays Susie Salmon, the 14-year-old girl who is murdered early in the film, and who narrates the action from her "in-between place" after dying but before going to heaven. Ronan makes Susie as earthy and awkward as any young teen, yet her presence, and her gorgeous pale eyes, remind viewers that she's otherworldly too. The Lovely Bones takes some big departures from the book, as many critics have pointed out, but it works well on its own merits. The drama involves how (even whether) Susie's family will recover after her ghastly murder, and what happens to her killer and the futile-seeming search for justice and closure. The entire cast is stellar, including Mark Wahlberg and Rachel Weisz as Susie's nearly destroyed parents; the composed young New Zealand actress Rose McIver, who plays Susie's younger sister, whom Susie watches grow up to be the young woman that Susie will never get to be; and Susan Sarandon, the boozy, wisecracking grandmother who may or may not be able to help keep the family from splintering into a million pieces. The other true standout is Stanley Tucci, almost unrecognizable as the quiet, creepy neighbor who kills Susie, obsessing over every detail and perhaps having left a whole trail of gruesome murders in his shambling wake. Jackson's deft direction keeps the mourning humans moving along believably, numbly, and gives breathtaking life to the afterlife, in scenes of fantasy and dread that recall his Heavenly Creatures. The film is rated PG-13 but is not recommended for younger teenagers because of its intense subject matter, though handled delicately.

Review: It's been several years since I've read the book, The Lovely Bones, because I read it when it first came out. To this day it remains on my all time favorite lists of books. It's not an easy subject matter, the murder of a 14 year old girl, but I was thankful that the movie did not feel the need to show the act on screen, the book is quite clear on what happened to Susie.

Of course with it being so long in between me reading the book and watching the movie, that I don't remember details of the book. I do remember being absolutely enamored with Susie's after world and how vividly it was described in the book. Peter Jackson does an excellent job of showing us this world. I can't imagine that trying to capture Susie's world would be an easy task for any film maker/director but he does it well. The one thing that kept the book from being incredibly depressing was that it was told from Susie's point of view and she was seeing death and life through the eyes of a 14 year old.

I remember, incorrectly or correctly, that she and Ruth Connors were close friends and not just acquaintances. I also thought that she and Ray dated and weren't just going to start going out. Perhaps my memory is foggy on that.

The cast is superb and everyone it in gives a stunning performance. I especially liked Susan Sarandon as the drunk, chain smoking grandma who comes to save the parents from themselves. I will have to go watch Julie & Julia, The Devil Wears Prada or Easy A with Stanley Tucci just so I can get this character out of my head.

How you view justice will influence how you feel about the ending. Does he get justice in the end? I like to think so, even if it's not how most of us would define it.

Is the movie the best book adaptation I've seen? No. Is it good enough for DVR or rental? Sure. I don't know too many movies that ever do the book justice and The Lovely Bones is no different.

Final Take:



Thiago Pined March 20, 2011 at 11:05 AM  

I loved this film and I guess I'll love thiscbook. I bought it, but I didn't read it yet. I've got lote of Books to read first.



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