The Lovely Bones directed by Peter Jackson – Film Review
published January 17,
now playing nationwide
Peter Jackson’s The Lovely Bones accomplishes one
thing that’s hard to do.
I’ve never seen a film in which the foreboding sounds of
inanimate objects cause such an emotional stir while the allegedly animate actors cause almost none.
In his adaptation of the Alice Sebold novel about a child
murder, Jackson’s film does pretty well in re-creating the sights and sounds of 1973, capturing that Lynch-ian fraudulent
suburban paradise with the depraved desires lurking underneath. And yet for all of its indulgence in graphic situations, you never get that
disturbed jolt. The movie’s narrator isn’t the only thing that’s dead.
The gimmick of The Lovely Bones is that it is
narrated by the dead child, Susie Salmon (actress Saoirse Ronan at least keeps her from also being a dead fish), from a halfway point to
Heaven that bears considerable resemblance to Candyland or an endless screensaver. There, she watches her murderer and family from above, and
soapily longs for the boy she longed to kiss. Having been brutally killed, these digs aren’t too bad. Child murder has never looked so
The tone of the film swings wildly among horror film,
domestic melodrama, Twilight-y romance, and cheesy comedy. At times it is deadly serious. At other times, deadly ludicrous. This
culminates in Stanley Tucci as the murderer. Under dorky windbreakers and a ridiculous sandy mustache, the effect is more comedy than horror.
It’s hard to be too creeped out when the epitome of evil appears too much like a Carol Burnett skit character, to make a nice seventies
The film seems to have little to say and exists only to bathe
in (un-)emotional pornography. That is until the end, when it suddenly advises against vengeance and tells everyone that we should chill out
and, Zen-like, move on from the tragedy. Then it reverses course and grants the audience’s desire for the bad guy to get it. There’s nothing
worse than a movie that can’t take its own advice.
kevinbowen @ stageandcinema.com