Published Jan 14, 2010I would not have thought that Peter Jackson, the director of the infamous The Lord of the Rings trilogy (in case you didn't know), would ever be a horrible choice to adapt a cherished novel to the big screen. Going forward, I will not be so naïve.
In its original form, The Lovely Bones, as delicately told by author Alice Sebold, is a shockingly honest account of what one seemingly happy family endures after the death of their eldest daughter. Its scope reaches into the minds of everyone who is affected by her death and even goes so far as heaven itself for answers. On screen, it goes nowhere near any of this insight and just ends up a mangled mess.
The death of Suzie Salmon (Saoirse Ronan), a 14-year-old girl with her whole life ahead of her, was senseless violence in a time when people still thought such things never happened. No body is found and therefore no peace is had by those Suzie touched in life. To sit with the book is to sit with the Salmon family in their grief. It is a cathartic experience and one that I may need to go through again after having all my healing robbed from me by Jackson. His focus, if he had any at all, circles around Suzie's personal transition from the land of the living to that of the dead. This allows Jackson to imagine grand imagery to bridge the gap between both worlds but, like Suzie, he gets lost in the "in-between."
The only things that keep The Lovely Bones from falling apart completely are the performances of Stanley Tucci and Ronan, as the murderer and his prey, respectively. Their incredible grasp of the source material is the only reminder of its chilling emotional charge. As for Jackson, he should have stuck with the gold he had in hand from the start. (Paramount)