Rarely do Hollywood films actually kill the little girl. The classic cliché plotline can be summed up with a girl being kidnapped, police desperately searching for her, with the girl rescued just in time. “The Lovely Bones,” however, does not follow the typical Hollywood plotline. Spoiler alert: the girl dies in the first half hour.
Based on the best-selling book by Alice Sebold, “The Lovely Bones” is the story of a 14-year-old girl named Susie Salmon, played by Saorise Ronan, who narrates her life from beyond the grave.
Killed by a middle-aged man down the street, Mr. Harvey, played by Stanley Tucci, “The Lovely Bones” focuses on the plight of Susie’s sister and father, played by Rachel Weisz and Mark Wahlberg respectively, as they desperately try to discover who killed Susie.
Meanwhile, Susie finds herself in what she calls the “in between” until her family is at peace and she can move on to heaven.
While the audience already knows who the killer is, the film manages to build suspense. Tucci gives a jaw-clenching performance of such power that his laugh sends shivers through the audience.
“Mr. Harvey did a really good job being a creeper,” said Ariana McEwan, a 19-year-old freshman psychology major. “He acted so normal and could hide it so well.”
The film was well cast, especially Tucci and Ronan. Ronan put on a powerful performance as the deceased Susie Salmon; she embodies the awkward age of 14 very well. Ronan makes the audience feel what she is feeling whether it’s finding first love or coming to terms with her murder.
Chelsea Jewell, a 17-year-old freshman Spanish major, said she thought that Ronan was one of the best things the film had to offer.
“I hope [Saoirse Ronan] has a good career, because she was really good,” Jewell said. “She should keep acting.”
Though the acting was superb, the story couldn’t hold up. The scenes that are set in the “in between” are long and boring. Peter Jackson, who wrote, directed and produced the film, did a great job with the set of the “in between,” but fell short in the long and drawn out scenes within it.
“I really liked the visual matches between what was happening in the afterlife and on earth,” said Kelsey Jonikas, a 19-year-old sophomore film studies major.
Jewell, who said she has read the book “The Lovely Bones,” said she thought that Jackson did a good job capturing the “in between.”
“The way the movie did the ‘in between’ was really cool,” Jewell said. “All the landscapes looked really good.”
But the biggest disappointment of the film was the end. Jackson tries to put a happy ending to the film, but the film itself isn’t a happy one. The audience knows the girl is dead, but Jackson tries to leave the audience less saddened by shoving a warm fuzzy feeling at the viewers.
Jackson made the mistake of trying to switch moods. It’s hard to lighten the mood when there is a serial killer murdering little girls on the loose. The ending was pointless and let down some viewers.
“I thought it was really disturbing and the ending irked me so bad,” McEwan said.
Jewell said that the ending in the book was different than the film.
“It was disappointing that the other family members of the victims didn’t know it was him,” Jewell said.
Fans of the book will be dissatisfied by the movie; a lot of it is missing. Using more from the novel could have helped the movie’s plot, with some prominent characters in the book appearing one-dimensional in the movie.
“It wouldn’t hold my attention as much if I hadn’t read the book,” Jewell said.
Jackson captured the horror faced by the family of a murdered child, but didn’t write a script worthy of keeping the audience’s attention. While beautifully filmed and acted, it fails to overcome its lack of substance.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Brigid Igoe at Brigid.email@example.com.