So this weekend I let @theguelphgirl drag me to the local movie house to watch a film based on a cheerily dark little tale she'd read not too long ago. This sad little tome bore the title The Lovely Bones and, I've been assured often enough to be curious, the book is better.
This film tells the story of a 14-year-old girl from Pennsylvania named Susie Salmon (played by Saoirse Ronan) who has an unfortunate run-in with the neighbourhood serial killer/pedophile George Harvey (Stanley Tucci). The narrative is an interesting combination of first and third person and it's from this perspective that we follow the comings and goings of Susie's family and other assorted persons of interest as they deal with her passing.
In theory it would've worked really well, but when translated to film it comes across as disjointed and the low camera angles meant to give you the impression she's looking down are for naught when your character's in the middle of the field: There wasn't even a hole. Saoirse did well in her role despite all this and consequently Susie was a likable girl dealing with coming of age awkwardness and death well in stride. Stanley Tucci was chilling as George Harvey and managed to rub you just the wrong way whenever it was called for. Susan Sarandon was surprisingly enjoyable in her role as Grandma Lynn; Marky Mark and Rachel Weisz did well in their roles as parents Jack and Abigail. At first blush it seemed that a better job (leading lady and psychopath excepted) could have been done all around, but upon reflection I realize that this is just misplaced disappointment: My real problem with this movie was that I almost had an emotion.
"Almost" isn't the bad part in that it could shatter a stereotype or something, it's rather that when a movie centers around the post-humous meanderings of a teenaged girl who died in a very horrible way, I expect to feel something. Quite a few of the shots in this movie were excellently framed and, in many cases, came quite close to evoking an actual emotion only to cut away too soon leaving you wholly unfulfilled. Many others were held way too long, although this was pretty much limited to the ridiculous visual effects which served no real purpose and were of a calibre I haven't seen since my 3rd semester TV graphics class. Sometimes if CGI is the answer you don't understand the question and it's for that reason Peter Jackson's been dead to me since Meet the Feebles and Heavenly Creatures.
All that being said, as a period piece this movie established itself really well and I could've seen Susie hanging out with Carrie Wasserman from that stupid Dear Lovey Hart: I Am Desperate I have kicking around on 16mm film somewhere. It's sad, but all of the things that this movie does right are far overshadowed by the things it does wrong.