“Bones” not so Lovely

In 2002, Alice Sebold published a chilling, yet riveting tale about the brutal murder of Susie Salmon (“like the fish”) in suburban Philadelphia in the early 1970s.

Peter Jackson, known for directing such movies as “King Kong,” and “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, brought the story to the screen– or at least tried to.

Sebold uses Susie as the all-knowing narrator of the story, which illustrates the character’s emotions and thoughts, as well as Susie’s own feelings. These aspects alone captivate the reader and make the story remarkable and memorable.

Susie sees Earth from the “in-between” of her heaven, which can be anything she thinks of. She watches her father, Jack, become obsessed with finding her murderer and her bones.

Abigail, Susie’s mother, is distant and wants to escape from the town since everything reminds her of Susie, who she wants to forget because she is no longer alive.

She takes her frustration out on Jack, and soon has an affair with the detective signed to Susie’s case, Len Fennerman.

Susie’s athletic sister, Lindsey, is the only one to accept the murder in a sophisticated manner. She sides with her father after he is positively certain that George Harvey, the loner neighbor in the green house, is Susie’s murder; which he is. Susie mentions this right at the beginning.

After Abigail leaves, and fashionable but vulgar Grandma Lynn comes to the rescue of raising the other children, Lindsey and 4 year-old Buckley, the emotional roller-coaster of family and friends coping with the forever ‘lost’ Susie, and connecting Susie to each one in her own way, makes for a unique love/horror story.

Jackson, however, lacked Sebold’s brilliance.

Instead of focusing on the emotional aspect of “The Lovely Bones,” he formed the story around imagery and the tension-based murder scene.

The audience will be depressed- or asleep- for half of the movie since the music compensation is soft and slightly boring. The film does not follow the entire storyline of the book, and if it had, it might actually be on the “good” scale.

The performance was not as bad, though. Saoirse Ronan played the scared 14 year-old Susie quite effectively, and captured the awkwardness Sebold was seeking during the short period in Harvey’s makeshift club house under the cornfield.

She lit the screen up with her large blue eyes during the scenes where she was actually alive, emphasizing the innocence and curiosity she had, something most young teenage girls have.

Mark Whalberg’s performance of Jack was astounding. He knows how to play his characters well, even during the uncomfortable scene when he helps Harvey build a hut out of sticks and wood limbs.

The audience cringed during the part where Brian, Susie’s best friend’s boyfriend, beats him with the bat in the cornfield. His performance was most likely the best one in the film, aside from Stanley Tucci’s creepy Harvey.

Tucci played Harvey in the most disturbing murder of any child in any movie, and the most obvious. If there was a person as creepy as Tucci in any near area, the cops would just arrest him even if he was innocent.

His small grunts and click of the tongue while talking to Susie in the cornfield scene, as well as his satisfying expression in the tub after he killed her, was very convincing and churned stomachs.

The only lackluster performance had come from Susan Sarandon who played Grandma Lynn. Jackson really chose to focus on a cheap-drunk whore of a grandmother who smoked like a chimney, rather than the real Grandma Lynn, obviously for the comedy-relief in the gruesome tale.

Sarandon outdid herself with the extensive eyeliner and tight dresses, never putting down a glass of whiskey or sleeping with a cigarette in hand.

Grandma Lynn originally brought smiles back to the family and tried to savor her daughter’s marriage, but Jackson chose to use Grandma Lynn as the joker; just another mistake on his part.

The film deserves a star and a half for its disappointment. If Jackson just followed by the book, it would have been a blockbuster hit. Unfortunately, he tried to be his own artist, and his creativity was no match to Sebold’s.

If you had not read the book, you might actually like the movie. If you have read the book more than once, you will hate it.

The Lewis Flyer

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