Monday, April 26, 2010

Weekend DVD Roundup- The Lovely Bones

As a fan of Alice Sebold's "The Lovely Bone", I have been reading negative reviews of the movie with dismay for months. I made what was probably a mistake and read even more reviews on sites like IMDB after watching "The Lovely Bones" this weekend. The idea repeated in review after review goes something like this : Peter Jackson has gutted the story and left viewers with mostly an empty CGI shell. What can I say, I get it but very much fell for this movie. I can't imagine the number of choices that must be made when adapting a book into a movie. The pull to include as much as possible bumping up against the reality that you have to edit, edit, and then edit some more.

In the story of Susie Salmon, her tragic murder and afterlife Jackson has chosen to make a sparse story that gives you, if not all of the details from the book, then at least the feeling of Susie watching her family from a distance and exerting subtle influence. We get what could almost be described as vignettes of her family's life in the wake of her death. She is meant to be moving on but is constantly drawn back by their grief and desire for justice.

One element I'm surprised to find missing from all of the negative reviews is praise for the great performances. Saoirse Ronan as Susie Salmon is the literal and figurative voice of the movie. Her narration perfectly captures the sweet sadness that runs through the book and her portrayal of Susie before the murder is so endearing as to drive home even more the tragedy of what is to come. As a counterpoint to her role is Stanely Tucci as her killer. Without going overboard he perfectly portrays the idea of the nightmare you don't realize is living next door. I for one am glad his role is a bit subdued. I've tired of movies portraying serial killer's every motivation, fetish and macabre details of the crimes. I'll admit the under use of Mark Wahlberg and Rachel Weisz is a mystery to me. Susan Sarandon deserves notice as Susie's grandmother, a woman after my own heart tackles life's challenges with a drink firmly in hand.

I probably could not change the minds of those who feel Peter Jackson has ruined a beloved book but decided I could enjoy the movie that is and not worry so much about the one that could have been.


Cara W. said...

Hey Wes! I totally agree with you about this movie. I was hesitant to see it because I knew the story line. It was the type of movie that stayed with me for quite sometime after wards. Very surreal in some parts and very sad. I loved the irony of the ending when the murderer fell down to his death. You could almost feel the little girl's presence.

Mocking Movies said...

Thanks!..I am glad to find some people who agree with me on this one. I don't envy any director making a movie from a book as popular as The Lovely Bones.