Having walked out of the theater after viewing The Lovely Bones, I asked myself if it was a good movie. I liked what I saw, but I was having doubts. Here we have a movie that has gotten a lot press about what did and did not make it into the movie. That press had gotten to me and I had to sit and ponder the movie, forgetting about the press and focusing on the movie. I came to the conclusion that I did, in fact, liked the movie. It was not the masterpiece that I had hoped for, but it was a good movie.
The movie begins with the introduction to Susie Salmon, who serves as the narrator even after she has been murdered. We meet her family and get the overall sense that she comes from a loving and safe home. Peter Jackson handles these scenes as if they are a fond memory. The movie takes place in the 1970's and we feel like we are right there in the time period.
But just when we get that safe feeling tragedy strikes. Susie doesn't come home one night after being lured into an underground clubhouse that her neighbor (Stanley Tucci) built in the cornfield behind Susie's school. We watch as her father frantically looks for all over town. The cops end up being called and the slow realization that Susie has been killed slowly sets in at the Salmon home.
The press that I spoke of earlier had to do with the death of Susie. The book goes into graphic detail, describing her rape and murder from the mind of Susie. Peter Jackson, in my opinion, made the right decision in not depicting the actual crimes. I believe that it would have turned off viewers and brought the movie to a dead stop. I don't believe that the viewers would have been able to overcome such a graphic situation so early in the film.
Susie goes to what is referred to in the movie as the "in between", which is the place you go to when you have things on earth that are unresolved. From what I got out of it is that Susie must help her family come to grips with her death and help her father find the killer. It is not made entirely clear, but that is what I got out of it.
The scenes in the "in between" are full of color and things from Susie's memory. However, there is a place that she is not ready to face. When she finally does, we see how many victims her killer has actually killed and we realize that Susie was not the first or only one to be killed by her killer.
The performances in the movie are handled very well. I am not a fan of Mark Walhberg, but I thought his performance was just right for the role. The actress that plays Susie is also very good, bringing an innocence to the role. Stanley Tucci, as the killer, is very effective. He brings an overall creepiness to the role and there is not one moment where we like him. His scene with Susie is one of the most effective scenes in the movie.
There are a few faults with this movie. What the mother does to grieve I felt didn't fit into the story. I also felt that the Susan Surandon character was unnecessary. She felt tacked on and out of place.
Despite these minors flaws, The Lovely Bones is a very good movie. It has a peaceful feel to it that I think is lacking from movies today. The Lovely Bones may not be the movie I thought it was going to be, but what I saw I liked. That I think is a fair trade