The Lovely Bones (Peter Jackson, 2009)

The Lovely Bones
I first became aware of this movie through a bulletin board discussion in which one poster raved about how wonderful it was whilst others railed against it as a monstrosity, and critics were not generally kind, so I was curious to see how it raised such animosity.

For the first hour, I was totally engrossed by the story of Suzie Salmon (Saiorse Ronan) who is murdered by her neighbour (Stanley Tucci) and who then watches her family from a dreamlike and idealised pastoral Limbo state.

Then it started to grate on me. The obsession of Suzy’s father (Mark Wahlberg) to find the killer and Suzie’s desire for revenge were both presented as heroic well beyond any sane wish for justice. With Suzy in a primary coloured and simplified Limbo, it was starting to look like a Tellytubby version of Death Wish. As Tucci’s murderer was made more and more a simplified grotesque, simply there to raise bloodlust, and a terrible waste of such a good actor, I really began to despise this film.

Jackson does manage to turn it around and, by the end, I no longer hated the film but I can’t say it’s among my favourites. Lynne Ramsay tried to make a film from the same source book. Given how excellent We Need to Talk About Kevin was, I have to suspect that she might have made a better fist of this than Jackson but it might be that, as has been claimed, the book was just unfilmable.

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