[Mark Walhberg, Stanley Tucci, Saoirse Ronan, Rachel Weisz]
Going through movie withdrawal is just a natural part of life. The early months of the year typically do not offer that many great pics to choose from, so we all learn to make due. In my case, I was offered a chance to see "The Lovely Bones" with my roommate. Although this film has been out for a few weeks, I was excited to go see it.
SYNOPSIS: After being killed by a neighborhood resident, Suzi Salmon wandered through the "in between" watching her family cope with her unsolved death and watching as the neighbor gears up for another victim.
Peter Jackson directs and co-writes the screenplay (with his LOTR scribes Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens) for the massive best-selling novel by Alice Sebold. I had not read the book and counted on the movie to provide me with all of the surprises that I would not have had if I had ventured into the pages. What I did come away with is a cross between "What Dreams May Come" and any number of movies revolving around serial killers and families dealing with the loss of a child.
The film was visually stunning, no doubt a tip of the hat to the prose of the book. The landscape of the "in between" is surreal and detailed. It is both fantastic and foreboding. One look at the lighthouse will provide you that. From here, Suzi Salmon learns about her killer and watches on as her family struggles to come to terms with her disappearance and murder.
Even though the "in between" is radiated in color, the more mundane of the "here and now" is shot with care to every detail. Roses, alive or dead, exude a certain weight. The corn fields throughout the seasons provide just the right sense of dread. And anything that the killer, George Harvey, has a hand in creating looks creepy and sinister, even in their most innocuous states.
Mark Wahlberg and Rachel Weisz play Suzi's parents, Jack and Abigail. They are slowly torn apart with their inability to cope. Both refuse to let Suzi go - Jack by obsessing about who could have been responsible for his daughter's death, Abigail by refusing to acknowledge that Suzi is dead and turning her daughter's room into an untouched tomb. Both characters are played with desperation and an undeniable love for family.
Stanley Tucci plays the killer George Harvey. He plays the role with a singular undercurrent of evil that leaves the other characters and the audience with a need to wash away the remnants of his gaze through his wire-framed glasses.
On par with Tucci's performance is Saoirse Ronan's portrayal of Suzi Salmon - like the fish. She sees the world with an innocent sense of wonder, both here and in the "in between". And her expressions while in the captivity of Harvey under the corn fields is what we would all feel in a similar situation.
While this movie probably does not live up to the novel of the same name, it is a valiant attempt. Like "What Dreams May Come" before it, it is always difficult to put prose into practice on the silver screen when it comes to the hereafter. I was not all that satisfied with the last 15-20 minutes of the film, and I do not know whether to blame the adaptation or the original. Either way, the fine performances, the visual direction of the film, and the story are enough for me.
Worth: Matinee or Netflix