Film review: The Lovely Bones (2009), directed by Peter Jackson
The description said something about a girl trapped in another world, trying to track down her killer, or something like that. What it turned out to be was certainly that, but so much more at the same time.
The film’s main character and narrator is young Susie Salmon (Saoirse Ronan), who, in a start of American Beauty kind of way, informs us that she’s about to tell us about when she was murdered. “Dark,” I thought, but I had no idea what was coming. “Dark” isn’t the half of it.
Once the poor girl is reported missing, her parents are beside themselves, and the father (Mark Wahlberg) becomes obsessed with trying to find her. He doesn’t trust that the police (Michael Imperioli et al) are doing their job, and tries to help. His wife (Rachel Weisz) can hardly take it, and gets Grandma Lynn (Susan Sarandon) to help out. “Help” in the sense of “causing even more chaos”.
Meanwhile, Susie is not just missing, she’s dead (of course), and she’s trapped in limbo: she can see the events of the real world on occasion, but she’s also stuck in this world-between-worlds, where she meets a girl (Nikki SooHoo) who tries to help her move on into the light, as it were.
The other Salmon children (Rose McIver and Christian Ashdale) try to get on with their lives, and Lindsey (McIver) starts to have her suspicions about a man down the street (Stanley Tucci) …
As films go it’s bizarre, and the world-between-worlds is as magnificent as it is beautiful – well, the parts that aren’t terrifying, that is. Susie is trying to come to terms with being dead, and her family wants her killer to be brought to justice. And the killer? Well, he just doesn’t want to be found out, plain and simple.
And HOLY CRAP, the killer is a creepy slimeball of ick! I feel like I need to take a shower after seeing the film, because he just left me feeling unclean. Stunning performance from a versatile actor, but if I had met him having just seen this film, I’d be reluctant to shake his hand! The character’s the sort of person you’d think anyone would run a mile if he said so much as hello to you, but unfortunately for Susie she was too polite to do such a thing.
The Lovely Bones is a Peter Jackson film, and the films I’ve seen of his have all been done very well. With regards to this film, about a scary, homicidal paedophile, I feel like telling my nieces and nephews to never follow strangers down holes. Even if the strangers are people they’re actually familiar with.
This is not a comfortable film to watch, it’s deeply disconcerting – probably even more so if you have children, I’m guessing – but it’s also a very good film, even if it’s terrifically strange and darker than the inside of a safe.
4 out of 5 dollhouses.