Thursday, August 25, 2011

THE LOVELY BONES

Saoirse Ronan, Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz
Stanley Tucci, Michael Imperioli


"The story of a Life and everything that came after ..."



Alice Sebold's widely acclaimed novel was one of the few books I read in the short span of 2 weeks. That is record time for me who can take months to finish reading an entire novel. I was totally engrossed by the way she vividly described the afterlife.

Naturally I was very curious to find out if director Peter Jackson ("The Lord of the Rings") could accurately convey the author's haunting words on screen. Sadly, I have to say that readers of the novel will be deeply frustrated by the movie adaptation.

Newcomers to the story may wonder why what is now essentially a serial-killer thriller includes so many computer generated scenes of a heaven that looks like a replica of a brightly colored hobbit shire, a magical place of fanciful special effects.

"The Lovely Bones" movie turned into a dramatic but gentle fairy tale that cushions the real crime that was committed against 14 year old Susie Salmon. The vital component of the book - her brutal murder occurs off screen.

As the story progresses, it becomes clear that the actors are being deprived of any meaty, well-developed scenes to play. There is no cohesive rapport/chemistry between the cast members. Sometimes it appeared as though, the scenes were shot separately then loosely pieced together in the editing room. Mainly, it's Wahlberg, Weisz and Sarandon who are shortchanged by the film's divided attention between earthly agony and astral accommodation. The talented actors are ok as far as things go, but that's not nearly far enough.

It is only Saoirse Ronan, with her astonishing glacier-blue eyes and reddish hair who gets to liven up the film. Her portrayal of Susie Salmon was boldly refreshing. Yet there is only so much she can do with a poorly written script. She had a far more fleshed out role in "Atonement" even though she only appeared in very few scenes.

In conclusion, "The Lovely Bones" finds a tolerable equilibrium between drama and hearty visual effects but lacks the much needed poignancy, a vital aspect to draw its audience into the fray.

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