The Lovely Bones
Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Mark Wahlberg, Susan Sarandon, Stanley Tucci, Rose McIver, Michael Imperioli
Director: Peter Jackson
So let the Lovely Bones debate begin.
It's had mixed reviews prior to its Boxing Day release - and to be honest, this take on Alice Sebold's much loved novel will continue to divide many. (More on that shortly)
Irish actress Saoirse Ronan plays American teenager Susie Salmon, a rural Pennsylvanian girl whose life is brutally cut short one day by a predatory neighbour, George Harvey (a wonderfully malevolent Stanley Tucci).
Stuck in the Inbetween world, Susie watches as her family falls apart as the hunt for her body and killer continues to no avail. Will she receive justice and will her family live happily ever after?
The Lovely Bones is by turns, heart in your mouth moments of horror and tears of unadulterated joy. As Peter Jackson explained at the New Zealand premiere this take on the book is a deeply personal one - and I'm guessing that's where some of the mixed reviews have come from.
Personally I loved this film - there are some incredible visuals and flights of fancy which are just liquid on the eyes. Clearly the effects employed in the realisation of the InBetween are just awe inducing and lead to sensory overload. Specifically the first scenes when you see Susie enter that ephemeral other world, the colours are so bright, the images so clear that it's just unlike anything you've ever seen.
However, it's back on earth that there is also much to enjoy - and to be honest, a little to nitpick at.
Mark Wahlberg and Rachel Weisz are good in admirable parts but it's their story of a family falling apart in the film which feels a little rushed - perhaps somewhat inevitably some of the earthbound action suffers from being book ended by the fantastical scenes of Susie's world. Consequently you maybe don't feel as much as you could for their heartbreak - it's nothing against their performances whatsoever; just merely their place in the film.
That said there really does need to be accolades showered on Saoirse Ronan the piercing bright blue eyed ingénue who plays Susie - she brings so much to the role; the exuberance of youth, the heaviness of despair and the sadness will just at times crush you. She's incredible in this. As is Rose McIver as her feisty sister Lindsay - a brilliant performance from an actress to watch out for.
Much the same needs to be said about Stanley Tucci's predator killer George Harvey. This is one of the most chilling character performances I've seen in a long time - menacing, creepy and just terrifying, this understated turn will leave you squirming uncomfortably in your seat. It's to Peter Jackson's credit that this role's so underplayed, it actually makes it worse for those watching because he gets away with the murder.
And that's the other thing about The Lovely Bones - the murder. The build up to this is just terrifying and is made even worse because you know what's coming. As the tension's ratcheted up, what you imagine happening is worse in your mind rather than what actually happens (in this case) off screen. Plus the scene right after is as heartbreaking as anything else you'll see this year.
Granted if you're a huge fan of Alice Sebold's book, you may find yourself a little disappointed with the adaptation - but to be honest, everyone takes a personal approach to this film, Peter Jackson included. The Lovely Bones is stunning in places - and will leave you horrified in others; go along and enjoy the spectacle that Peter Jackson's created on a smaller more intimate scale than any of his other epics.