Posts Tagged ‘The Lovely Bones’

Saoirse Ronan as Susie Salmon

First….a confession.

I may have had something in my eye at certain points during this film,but nobody saw this happen and therefore nobody can prove anything.

So my reputation as a badass is intact.

Anyway…back to the film version of The Lovely Bones…

If  you’ve read the book,then I should probably warn you that this is very much a stripped-down version…..the bare bones,if you will.Gone are vast chunks of story and also some characters-Susie’s elbow isn’t found,the family dog doesn’t die and meet Susie in Heaven,her mother doesn’t have an affair with the cop Len Fenerman etc etc.There is much less focus on Susie’s friends at school,also,but this is probably due to the limitations of cinema-what takes up a couple of pages can be explained on film by a single image.If you’ve read the book prior to seeing the film,you will find events happening not only faster than you remember but sometimes out of order and even completely differently.For example,Jack’s (Susie’s father) decline into obsession with finding her killer happened so abruptly,in the space of a couple of scenes,that it made me wonder if I’d blacked out and missed a bit.

Susie goes prog

Susie’s guide in the afterlife,Franny,is also absent-instead Holly has an expanded role to fill the void.And what a void it is-The Inbetween looks like it was made up of out-takes from director Peter Jackson’s own Lord of the Rings films,liberally garnished with a bit of prog rock-Heaven looks like a Yes album (specifically Tales From Topographic Oceans).At one point,Susie and Holly tramp through a forest only recently vacated by Frodo and his chums.Peter Jackson seems to be saying that there is no need to fear death because the afterlife is great fun-and if you happen to be a 14 year old who has been murdered then you’ve got a lot to look forward to.

The film starts out looking like an extended version of That 70s Show…posters of David Cassidy (ask your grandmother) abound,and a sneaky bookshop stand shows copies of Lord Of The Rings for sale (geddit?),but if you’ve read the book before parking your butt in your local flicks,then you know that this is a film about a girl who gets brutally murdered–and,very soon,we’re going to have to watch that onscreen….we’re going to have to see something we don’t want to.

I admit that I felt uneasy as the murder scene unfolded,but,where the novel didn’t flinch,the movie does.It’s easy to forget,with all the wonderful visuals and floaty,happy-clappyness of the afterlife,that the subject matter being presented here as entertainment is not exactly pleasant.The last we see of Susie in life is as she is desperately trying to escape from Mr.Harvey’s underground lair-we next see her as her soul escapes Earth,brushing past Ruth Connors on the way.

Which brings us rather neatly onto the question of performances…well,there is only one star of this film,and that is,of course,Saoirse Ronan as Susie Salmon.She is talented enough and different enough to carry the film,making it a better-than-average film rather than just an average one.Mark Wahlberg,on the other hand,manages to,(in my opinion anyway)as Jack Salmon,come across as rather weak and ineffectual,with Rachel Weisz as the mother,Abigail Salmon,slightly more effective.Stanley Tucci,in possibly the biggest role of his career,as killer George Harvey,is also wonderfully creepy and calculating,his every line dripping with ewww…although his performance is totally different to the way I imagined the character to be while reading the book.Such is the strange world of movies.

Susan Sarandon plays Grandma Lynn,the chain smoking and drinking grandmother,the comic relief in a film that shouldn’t have any.Her scenes highlight the main problem with the film-clashing tones;one moment sentimentality,the next disturbing violence,topped off with a bit of slapstick-at one point you’d be mistaken for thinking you were watching a comedy.If there’s one thing that Peter Jackson proves with this film,it is that he was the wrong man for the job.

But….I did sort of strangely enjoy it,as a film in it’s own right.Comparing it to the book will ultimately lead to madness,but it did make me reconsider my opinion of the novel,despite what I wrote in my previous blog.

Perhaps a re-read is required.

And there are some very effective moments-Susie being led to Heaven by Harvey’s previous victims to the soundtrack of…no I won’t spoil it (this was the bit when I got something in my eye,bit of dust I think),Jack Salmon talking to Mr.Harvey and finally realising he is the killer,Lindsey sneaking into Harvey’s house to look for evidence.

I highly recommend it…..just forget about the book for two hours.

7/10

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Sometimes,when I’m reading certain books that have been raved about by what seems to be the entire literate planet,I often wonder if I’ve picked up the right book.

I experienced the same feeling while reading The Road by Cormac McCarthy…I didn’t get it at all….I couldn’t finish it.

I lent it to my mother who managed to finish it,and she was totally baffled….mind you,that’s her usual state of mind,but that’s another story.

So it is with the current “must-read” book-The Lovely Bones,by Alice Sebold,although “current” is a misnomer seeing as the novel is eight years old.It is enjoying a resurgence in popularity due to the new film adaptation by Peter Jackson,my blog-review of which will follow in a few days time.It wouldn’t do to confuse the two-movie adaptations are exactly that…an adaptation,a version of the original story.

So-back to the book…I won’t go into the plot too much as I’m sure you all know it,and I’ll try to avoid spoilers as much as possible.

My overriding feeling on finishing it is….this is simply an OK book,and certainly not a great one as most people would have you believe.

Narrated by murdered teenager Susie Salmon,the book tells of how her friends cope with her death,and how her family gradually falls apart.Call me heartless or unfeeling,but I found the story very flat,dull and pretentious.After an effective opening,depicting the killing of Susie,the story tails off somewhat,and overall seems rushed and unfinished.The most interesting parts are the passages about Susie’s friends and how they develop over the years….Susie herself and her family are less engaging.Susie’s killer,George Harvey,also seems not fully realised.I think in the hands of a better writer,this novel could have been a more powerful work.

Maybe it’s simply a case of me missing the point once again,but I am underwhelmed by the novel….I hesitate to use the phrase “chick-lit” but I think this is a book that women will get more out of than men.

I wanted to like The Lovely Bones….whenever I read a new book or listen to new music,I look for the “hook” that will pull me in and allow me to love it.

I couldn’t find it in The Lovely Bones.

Coming soon-The Lovely Bones-Film Review-although I’m reluctant to link the two different entities as if they were two halves of a whole,it’ll be interesting to see what Peter Jackson has made of the story.