Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Review: The Lovely Bones

The Lovely Bones (2009)
Genre: Drama
Format: Blu-ray
Director: Peter Jackson

It is good to see Peter Jackson directing another drama. After all, I consider Heavenly Creatures to be one of his greatest works. Perhaps Jackson thought that he could easily get away with doing a film with a pretty dark overtone after his mainstream successes from the incredible The Lord of the Rings trilogy and disappointing King Kong remake. After all, the film contains some outlandish, imaginative scenarios involving the "afterlife" but those who are only familiar with Jackson's Hollywood productions should approach the movie with caution.

The Lovely Bones is a story about a fourteen year old girl's demise at the hand of a pedophile and what happens afterwards as told through her observation. The beginning of the film is really bleak and even though the girl's fate is clearly foretold from the start, the heavy sense of dread is definitely palpable and the moment of lost is incredibly sad. From that point though, the genuine portrayal of intense emotion as well as the seriousness of the situation are downplayed somewhat by Jackson relying too heavily on cheap looking CGIs. The "afterlife" sequences are done quite poorly and since they are interwoven in between the scenes involving the living, the difference in visual quality between the two types of scenes become rather jarring.

What I do like about the movie is its concept of life after death and the way everything unfolds in the end - well beside this one unnecessary scene that I think was just put in there to make people feel a bit better about the whole proceeding. I don't believe in an afterlife and this one is as far-fetched as those taught by the many religions of the world but only without the intrusion of a so-called "god" and its staffers. I am not sure how close of an adaptation this movie is to the original novel by Alice Sebold but if it is, I think Sebold really has an important message to her readers about life. It is bold to portray death as what it is: the end of everything. Not everyone get to live a long and happy life: there are many of us whose lives end as horribly as the girl's death in the movie. Not all lives are provided with meaningful resolutions which is what the movie tries to hint at to its audience.

The Lovely Bones is an interesting film. It would have been so much better if it was visually consistent. There are some problems with the storyline too because it tends to contradict itself during some of the film's most critical moments. A special kudos to Susan Sarandon for stealing the show as the girl's wild grandmother. I have never seen her with so much eyelashes since the her naughty "Floor Show" performance in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. How divine!

RATING: 3 out of 5

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