The Lovely Bones

Rated PG-13 135 min. 2010

Peter Jackson adapts Alice Sebold’s novel about a 14-year-old girl Susie Salmon (Saoirse Ronan) who in 1973 is raped, killed, and dismembered by the neighborhood serial killer and then looks down on the family she has left behind from her heavenly perch.

Where some directors might be intimidated by representing Susie’s celestial afterlife, Jackson is off the leash, dreaming up crazed phantasmagorias: life-size sailing ships encased in glass bottles crashing on the shore of a dire, dark beachhead, Susie sailing through a cartoonish wintry landscape on a sleigh pulled by a tiny black pug. It’s trippy, surreal, a mix of a ’70s-era Seventeen magazine and a Pink Floyd album cover.

There is much to recommend in Jackson’s The Lovely Bones, beyond its flair for the time period. But the film’s inescapable flaw is, ironically, Jackson’s special effects artistry. At their best, the sequences are astounding, dramatic visualizations of the intense feelings of a sensitive teenage girl. At their worst, all of that CGI technology is akin to a birthday boy being told he can eat his entire birthday cake. One slice is good, but the whole cake can induce a stomach ache.

Film Credits

Official Site:

Director: Peter Jackson

Writer: Alice Sebold and Peter Jackson

Producer: Carolynne Cunningham

Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz, Susan Sarandon, Stanley Tucci, Saoirse Ronan, Michael Imperioli, Amanda Michalka, Nikki SooHoo, Rose McIver and Carolyn Dando

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