The Lovely Bones: movie review

Based on Alice Sebold’s bestseller, ‘The Lovely Bones’ turns on a murdered girl who tries to help her grieving family from beyond.

AP Photo/Paramount-DreamWorks Pictures
In this film publicity image released by Paramount Pictures, Saoirse Ronan stars as Susie Salmon in a scene from 'The Lovely Bones.'

Peter Jackson is globally known for directing the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy and “King Kong,” but before he became so lucratively enmeshed in CGI effects he was admired for the true-life murder movie “Heavenly Creatures” and, before that, “Dead Alive,” the ickiest zombie flick ever made. In taking on “The Lovely Bones,” set in 1973 and based on Alice Sebold’s bestseller about a murdered girl who in her afterlife gazes down on her grieving family and her uncaught killer, the hope was that Jackson would get back to basics. But he’s gone the other way. Instead of fashioning a realistic framework for this fantasia, he’s gone hog-wild for special effects whenever the girl, Susie (Saoirse Ronan, the gifted sprite from “Atonement”), is around. Whether she’s coursing through candy-colored landscapes or perched before billowing clouds, she seems ethereal to the point of parody. The family domestic scenes – Mark Wahlberg and Rachel Weisz play Susie’s parents, Rose McIver and Christian Ashdale play her siblings – are, alas, as earthbound as Susie’s are highfalutin. As the murderer, Stanley Tucci is intensely creepy but, like almost everybody else in this movie, he’s more gothic figment than flesh and blood. The exception is Susan Sarandon as Susie’s boozy, blunt grandmother, a woman with so much spritz she could raise the dead – a talent that would have come in handy here. Grade: C

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