In the adaptation of Alice Sebold’s “The Lovely Bones,” Susie Salmon (Saoirse Ronan) tells us how she died, killed and dismembered by a sinister neighbor played with eerie nonchalant menace by Stanley Tucci.
It is Dec. 6, 1973, and for the rest of the movie, we are privy to Susie’s story: her life as a suburban teen, with a loving father and mother (Mark Wahlberg and Rachel Weisz), flashbacks to her life on Earth, and finally her dream-laden existence where she remains a casual observer in a strange new world.
‘The Lovely Bones’
DIRECTED BY: Peter Jackson
STARRING: Saorise Ronan, Rachel Weisz, Mark Wahlberg, Susan Sarandon, Stanley Tucci, Rose McIver, Michael Imperioli and Nikki SooHoo
RUNNING TIME: 134 minutes
It’s an “Our Town” that can give you the creeps — a girl and her fellow victims swirling around in limbo as we wait and pray that the murderer will be apprehended.
Jackson and his screenwriters have much to work with, but too often it remains an atmospheric creation that lingers in ethereal space. If we are mesmerized by the events and visions — not to mention the suspense — we are too often hung up on the artifice of a dead girl talking. At the risk of sounding morbid, I’d rather know more about the killer.
Jackson, a great director who gave us “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, seems out of step here, maybe confused about handling Sebold’s disturbing narrative.
And why has he saddled his harrowing thriller with a PG-13 rating? It’s as if he goes out of his way to avoid an artistically necessary sense of horror.
Ironically, “Lovely Bones” is a thriller hampered by its unwelcome sense of restraint. It’s a curious experience to sit through a movie that is so inviting, so edgy, and just too darn remote.
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