Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Lovely Bones (2009)

THE LOVELY BONES
DIRECTED BY: PETER JACKSON
WRITTEN BY: PETER JACKSON, PHILIPPA BOYENS, & FRAN WALSH
NOVEL BY: ALICE SEBOLD
OVERALL SCORE: 5.00/10


After her death, Susie Salmon (Saoirse Ronan) watches over her aching family and friends from the in-between world (between earth and heaven).

When I first started hearing calls for The Lovely Bones being an over-directed mess I was doing the equivalent of putting my hands on my ears and making noises to avoid hearing it. Upon watching it, I highly regret to inform that I have to agree on some level. Jackson's knack for striking images comes at the backlash of his desire to include a little bit of everything. He wants the action, the heartbreak, and the whimsical awe all wrapped up into something that stands for more than what it is. Unfortunately, in trying to jumble all of these, Jackson looses focus on many occasions and his efforts to put them together in a simple straight forward narrative fails to mesh.

Though I don't put it all at the foot of Jackson. The source material is inherently just not straight forward enough for a novel to cinema translation. Jackson tries to pull out that epic stature from Lord of the Rings to make it work, but even still the film feels all to weighed down by the many story lines, none of which are really ever fully explained enough for the audience to follow. Then again it doesn't help Jackson that much of the cast just feels detached from their performance. Ronan, Tucci, and Sarandon shine, but Whalberg continues his post oscar-nomination slump, while Rachel Weisz's role is far too underwritten to make anything of it. Even the small performance from Nikki Soohoo (whose character plays a transitioning character for Ronan) just feels more comical than real, and a such, connectible.

Lovely Bones ends up spending most of its runtime fumbling back and forth between striking visuals, great scenes, and horrid scenes. All too disconnected from one another to truly grab the audience. Years travel for these characters, and yet nothing seems to change. Their bonds as humans never leave, and while there's certainly something there for analysis as to why, it never begs you to get that deeply involved. Of course that's not to say that Jackson doesn't make it involving. Maintaining a brisk pace, Jackson keeps the viewer intrigued throughout the runtime, dragging them through the awful scenes, by utilizing that basic human nature of curiosity. Yet at the end of the film there's still that feeling of unfulfilled emotion. Nothing ties together well enough for any sort of closure, nor is it explained well enough for us to truly grasp the importance of some scenes. Jackson, sadly enough, can't bring it all together.

Despite his best efforts, and a couple of great performances (and a couple awful ones), Jackson can't tie everything together, and ultimately falls under the weight of trying to bring such a complex story to life.

6 better thoughts:

DEZMOND said...

THE ACADEMY OF HOLLYWOOD SPYING ARTS kindly invites you to appear at Dezmond's headquarters to receive an award for your blogging achievements in 2009. It's a black-tie occasion ;)

Candice Frederick said...

i didn;t mind the film actually. i haven't read the book thugh and i hear the movie presents the book ina different way. but i was sorta impressed by jackson's interprettaion of the story. it definitely does get whimsical in certain scenes but i don't think it's as bad as everyone else seems to think.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

Ah shucks. We do NOT have a winner. Oh well, just goes to show how unconventional my tastes are.

Chase Kahn said...

I almost went to see this on Friday but chickened out - I think I'll catch up with it sometime this week.

"The Book of Eli" wasn't bad at all, though...

Jaccstev said...

Despite many unfavorable reviews, I am still interested to see this film. Thanks for your view, it helped me to see another side of this film.

Jorn said...

Been getting a lot of negative reviews, but I still want to see it, even just for the imagery and story. Saw the trailer in the cinema and it looked awesome.

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