Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz, Susan Sarandon, Stanley Tucci, Michael Imperioli, Saoirse Ronan
Centers on a young girl who has been murdered and watches over her family – and her killer – from heaven. She must weigh her desire for vengeance against her desire for her family to heal.
I should say at the start that I’ve never read the novel this film is based on, so I can’t compare the two or say whether this is a faithful adaptation. What I can say, however, is that as a stand alone entity, this movie was exceptional.
The Lovely Bones tells the story of 14 year old Susie Salmon, her murder and her afterlife as she watches how her death affects her family, friends and even her murderer. This is by no means a new concept, but it is conceptualized and executed here beautifully, from the sweet pangs of teenage infatuation that begin the film to the sense of urgency and finally relief that concludes it. Every emotion is sketched so tangibly that I couldn’t help but be swept up in what might otherwise seem a dawdling plot line. Each scene felt purposefully and carefully placed to its best effect, and no wonder, when we’re talking about the team that so brilliantly translated The Lord of the Rings. Even small elements that felt vaguely superfluous in the moment carry a subtle importance by the end, but the film never beats you over the head with details, never underestimates the intelligence of its audience.
Let me wax poetic a moment on the acting. My god, what a cast, what a cast, and nothing less than a perfect performance among them. This is where you really see Peter Jackson’s tremendous talent at work. He is incredibly good at helping his actors comfortably inhabit their roles, so that everyone shines even when placed amongst the likes of Stanley Tucci and Susan Sarandon, both of whom always make this stuff look easy.
This is, above all, a moving film. The whole “ghost being able to move on to heaven” cliche is so overused that it probably shouldn’t have made me cry, but it did. It doesn’t cheat you by applying a trite, Hollywood ending, but still somehow manages to leave you satisfied. You’ll come out of this one feeling light and full and like the world is really okay, if only for a moment.