film review: The Lovely Bones (2009)

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the lovely bones poster saoirse ronan

It seems like people have been talking about The Lovely Bones for ages…

Well actually they have been. The fact that the Irish release date was moved back twice has not particularly helped with this but with a very staggered worldwide release and the presence of Irish actress, Saoirse Ronan, we really have been hearing about The Lovely Bones for a long time now.

By the way in case you’re not Irish and you’re wondering how to pronounce Saoirse, it’s seer-sha… now you know.

Anyway, I had been looking forward to The Lovely Bones for a long time. I started reading the book ages ago but I never really got passed the first few chapters. It’s not that I didn’t like it, I actually found it extremely emotionally moving, I just don’t read that much so when I put it down I never got around to picking it back up. I knew there was a film coming out eventually so I thought I would just wait for it.

I can’t really work out if this was a mistake or not. The reason I picked it up in the first place was that I heard it was an excellent book. Unfortunately it’s not an excellent movie. I wouldn’t say it’s a bad movie. There are plently of other people out there who are saying that… I disagree. However I can’t in good conscience say that it’s a very good movie. Maybe I should have read it. On the other hand if I had read it I might have been more disappointed so perhaps I am better off. I should probably read it now.

The problem here is that the film is just completely out of balance. The whole fantasy world thing looks beautiful and perhaps in the book it all ties together somehow but in the film it just seems out of place. As a result those scenes serve as an interruption to what could be, and mostly is, a compelling story of a father trying to find his daughter’s killer while his family falls apart. I’d love to say that they should have just thrown out the heaven sequences but I assume that, if you’ve read the book, it would mean that you’re really just making a completely different film. Also it would have left Saoirse Ronan pretty much on the cutting room floor and she was actually pretty good.

There are some strong performances in this film. I really enjoyed what little we saw of Susan Sarandon and Michael Imperioli. Stanley Tucci was particularly excellent as George Harvey; I personally felt a genuine disgust toward him. You root for his demise over any legally meted justice in this case. He is absolutely deserving of his Oscar nomination, he’s been a fine actor in everything I’ve ever seen him in and he’s really well overdue for this recognition. Mark Wahlberg and Rachel Weisz were also sufficient in their roles. I have no complaints about them.

It’s just so unfortunate that this film went wrong. There are some really great scenes and great performance but overall it just didn’t work. Oh, also there are a few lame scenes toward the end which I assume are in the book and probably make sense there. In the film they are quite jarring. By then though it’s just kind of like, oh well.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say that people shouldn’t go see it… it’s a story worth seeing, but I would warn people not too expect to much from it. Mitigate your expectations and hopefully you will enjoy it.


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