“I wouldn’t change anything in the film. The film is very much what we set out to make.” Thus spoke director Peter Jackson in a recent interview, defending his movie The Lovely Bones against some harsh critical reviews. Now that I’ve seen the film, I’m on Jackson’s side.
I read novelist Alice Sebold’s ethereal book of the same name some years ago, and I thought Sebold managed to pull off a marvelous balancing act. She penned a top-notch thriller about the hunt for a serial killer, while simultaneously painting a devastating and poignant picture of one family torn apart by the killer’s acts. And to top that off, the story was narrated by a dead girl — from heaven (or some such place), no less. How on earth could anyone, especially a director as seemingly unsubtle as Jackson (The Lord of the Rings, King Kong) translate Sebold’s prose to film?
Jackson succeeds on a number of levels. The story arc involving the murderer, in particular, is gripping stuff. Young Saoirse Ronan is a winning personality as tragic young Susie. The disintegration of the Salmon family, on the other hand, has been truncated from the novel, and it feels like it. And as for the scenes in “heaven” … geez, I dunno. But they are spectacularly colorful.
I enjoyed this movie, and I didn’t really expect that I would. The more I think about it, I wouldn’t change a thing, either. Well, maybe some of the overplayed 1970s songs on the soundtrack …. Grade: B
Director: Peter Jackson Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz, Susan Sarandon, Saoirse Ronan, Stanley Tucci, Michael Imperioli Release: 2009
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