The Lovely Bones got too lovely

I had pegged this to be the next heart-crushing movie adaptation since My Sister’s Keeper.

When Suzie Salmon was 14, she was raped and brutally murdered by her nieghbor, Mr. George Harvey. Not able let go of the life and the world she was robbed off, she looks on from the land of in-between as her murderer remains unpunished and her family reels from the tragedy of her death.

First 45 minutes of the film were great. You can easily feel the connections between the characters. What more can you ask from a very talented ensemble cast which includes Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz, Susan Sarandon, and Stanley Tucci? The junior actors deliver remarkable performances as well, keeping up with the veterans. Saoirse Ronan who played Suzie Salmon was a revelation. I expect her to appear in more roles after her performance in this movie.

The Salmon family is a lovely bunch. But their peaceful and loving existence was shattered into pieces when Suzie disappeared one night, and was soon believed to be dead. She was murdered,  her body was never found. That scene where Stanley Tucci’s character, Mr. Harvey, lures Suzie into an underground den was so gripping and so terrorizing, it is the stuff of every parent’s worst nightmares.

But when Suzie died, the rest of the movie also did. This is the saddest the movie could ever get.

With a brilliant cast and a bestseller novel as basis for the plot, what could have gone so terribly wrong?

A director’s overindulgence is to blame. When Suzie died and entered her personal heaven, everything felt so disconnected. Too much CGI effects used in this movie became so distracting, it broke down all the connections that were so beautifully built in the first half of the movie. It became so visually lovely that it overshadowed the harrowing ordeal of losing a child, a sister in the most brutal manner. Mr. Jackson had become so preoccupied with his vision of what Suzie’s perfect sort-of heaven should be like, when his focus should have been on the ones that were left behind – the people whom Suzie cannot let go of. All of a sudden, the script became lousy and some of the characters became useless. Case in point, Rachel Weisz who played Suzie’s mother. It was such a waste!

I wish Jackson had gotten over his fantasy kicks in LOTR, and had completely abandoned them in this movie. Had this movie been presented in a straight-forward fashion, this would have been perfect – the first half was. I guess it’s too bad for those who read and loved the book ‘coz this film had potential…

It could have been “just right” lovely.

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