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February 28, 2017

Addendum: Movie Review || The Lovely Bones

movie-poster-lovely-bones
I'll come right out and say it - the film version of 'The Lovely Bones' was disappointing. Was it because I watched it so soon after reading the novel by Alice Sebold? Perhaps. But I don't think it would be unfair of me to say that this was not it at all.

Peter Jackson's 'The Lovely Bones' certainly had the main plotline down: a girl is murdered and experiences heaven while simultaneously watching as her family learns to live with her death. The film tried sooooo hard to create that fleeting sense of Susie at once being in heaven and on Earth with her family. It tried to use stunning visuals of the natural world that made up Susie's heaven and how she interacted with it to show the passing of time on Earth. But for someone who hadn't read the novel, I think it would be too confusing, especially since the characters did not appear to age as much as they did in the novel, with the exception of Lindsey, who marries and can be seen pregnant at the end of the film.

I was impressed with Stanley Tucci's performance as George Harvey, the serial killer who murders Susie. He was indeed awkward and chilling and his performance was on point - I especially loved the contact lenses, since his familiar face was distorted. Mark Wahlberg was, as Susie's dad Jack, typically Mark Wahlberg-y - angry instead of despairing and desperate as I read the character. I was disappointed also that the story disregarded a lot of what Susie's mom, Abigail, was experiencing: her love affair with the consulting detective was left out entirely, and I think this actually played a large part in why she decided to leave the family, because it reminded her that she was something other than simply a mother.

The story was significantly simplified: Lindsey comes to suspect Harvey before her father does, who only remembers Harvey when he spots him in one of Susie's photo sets; Ray Singh has been reduced to a love interest, and for some reason becomes the biggest thing that Susie misses while she's in heaven - she cannot even rest until she possesses Ruth and kisses him; Ruth is reduced to the girl who saw Susie's ghost and the film disregards her psychic talents; and poor Grandma Lynn has become nothing but comic relief, among other things.

I suppose the subject matter of the book is much more complicated than could be carried across to film - there is just something about Sebold's novel that is deeper and more insightful than the film expresses. While both the novel and the book attempt to bring a positive spin on grief, I feel like the film was too focused on a happy ending and justice for Susie - after all, when Harvey dies at the end, it is his death we view in gruesome shots - it feels as though the redemption of Susie's family had to happen when Harvey dies. In the novel, the reality is that redemption is self-made, a decision that each individual makes to retain the bones of family and friendship ties instead of break them.

{Movie poster credit: By Source, Fair use, Link}