Review: The Lovely Bones

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“These were the lovely bones that had grown around my absence: the connections — sometimes tenuous, sometimes made at great cost, but often magnificent — that happened after I was gone.”

Years ago, I came across a novel written by a writer named Alice Sebold. It was her second book. I didn’t know what drew me to the book at that time, but I’m glad I was. It was the first (and only) book I read where the narrator was no longer alive, and speaking from her heaven. She was 14-year-old Susie Salmon and she was murdered by a man in her neighborhood on December 6, 1973.

Fast forward to 2009, Peter Jackson makes the film adaptation of what could only be a complete departure from his previous films, the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Although elements of fantasy still exist in The Lovely Bones, the setting is not Middle Earth and the story is as real as the actual crimes that happen today.

The Lovely Bones is a difficult film to watch, simply because the pain of losing someone and how the loss came about is central to the story, hence, it’s heavily emotional and nothing – not one moment – lets you forget it. And rightly so. Mark Wahlberg and Rachel Weisz play the anguished parents torn apart by the loss, but later on reunited. This film showed Whalberg’s attempt on acting beyond blockbusters, and is a good start in my opinion. It was not as convincing as Susan Sarandon’s portrayal of Grandma Lyn, which gave a relief to the film’s dark tone. Most notable of all is newcomer Saoirse Ronan who played Susie Salmon. She was beautifully effortless in her portrayal of a girl full of youth and wonder and all other emotions that followed during her terrible death. Stanley Tucci is  singular in his role as the villain and he strongly proves his wide range as an actor.

The visual aspect of the film is a complete contrast to its tone. With scenic and fairy-like backdrops and landscapes that is reminiscent of What Dreams May Come, Jackson is in his element  creating what heaven must have looked like, though at times it distracted from the story-telling, most times it complements it and builds up the emotions. Some moments are so brilliant, one can’t help but wonder what it would be like to see it in 3D. Of course, that might prove a short-lived purpose that will not benefit the entire film.

The Lovely Bones in a nutshell is a story about a family coping with a loss and how it changed them, of how one life can touch another more in death than in life, of how letting go is never wrong, and never easy. Oh, and expect a few tears held in the corner of your eyes, whether you fight or not.

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