Peter Jackson's THE LOVELY BONES
A movie review by Dennis D. McDonald
In THE LOVELY BONES director Peter Jackson returns to the more intimate blending of emotion and fantasy that characterized earlier films like HEAVENLY CREATURES.
Based on the novel of the same name this movie tells the story of a 14 year old girl who, from beyond the grave, tries to help her family cope with her murder in December 1973.
I loved this film and wish I had seen it in a theater when it was first released. I remember thinking at the time that I had no interest in a film about a child’s murder; I’ve raised two children and the thought of such a story as the basis for entertainment admittedly creeped me out. But the overwhelmingly negative reaction to this film also stimulated my curiosity. I’ve never seen a Jackson movie I didn’t like (remember Dead Alive?) so I rented and watched it.
Parts of the movie were difficult to watch, primarily the scenes leading up to and including the murder; thankfully Jackson spares the audience the graphic detail provided by the novel. That’s fine with me since I don’t look to movies to duplicate the books they’re based on.
The character mix in this film is wonderful. Also amazing is the recreation of 1973 U.S. domestic life down to the glass tumblers used by Susan Sarandon’s character for her mixed drinks.
But what rang true to me was how Jackson presented how a 14 year old girl might view things from the afterlife. It’s not the view of an adult, it’s he view of a child-woman having been snatched from life during the turmoil of adolescence. And, yes, I was touched by her relationship with her father.
But the movie is all about murder and its ramifications for all whom it touches, rather like a chain reaction of emotional responses. The beauty of the movie (and presumably of the novel which I have not read) is it mixes murder, afterlife, and emotion in such an original way without the need to resort to angels and heavenly harps. The result is bittersweet and very human. My hat’s off to Jackson who impresses me as one of our most creative and versatile directors.
The DVD (rented from Netflix)
No extras, no commentary. Boo, hiss.
Review copyright (c) 2010 by Dennis D. McDonald