The highly anticipated The Lovely Bones had a beautiful trailer, it showed some really nice fantasy graphics and made people looking forward to this new movie by Peter Jackson, who has been an A-list director since he gave the world The Lord Of The Rings movies and the King Kong remake. Here he returns to his roots by making a “small” movie about a 14 year old girl named Susie, who was killed by a sexual predator and is now stuck in some sort of a limbo from which she can partially connect with here parents and friends.
The limbo she’s in, a place where she is before she can go to heaven, is the place where all the beautiful fantasy CGI comes in and in the end I found that to be the least interesting storyline of the movie. The movie has a couple of story-lines: all about individual characters dealing with the death of Susie. I found these stories, especially that of the killer, to be more intriguing than Susie being stuck in CGI-limbo. It’s a shame that that was the selling point of the movie, because it with it stripped away it would have been an creepy thriller.
Stand-out and rightfully nominated for an Academy Award is Stanley Tucci, who’s pretty unrecognizable here and really gets into the skin of the character he’s portraying. When you look at him, he’s the kind of guy you can beat down with one punch, yet his appearance is constantly creepy, his mannerisms eerie. Set in the 1970’s he doesn’t have to worry about DNA giving him away, but still several confrontations with him and the police or Susie’s father are filled with a disturbing atmosphere. The scene where Susie’s sister is sneaking around in his house while he is coming home will probably cause you to bite your nails. It’s these moments that the movie is at its strongest.
The same goes for the parents of Susie, whose grieve we feel and whose reactions to her death are realistic. Father gets obsessed with finding the killer, while mother goes away to learn to live with the loss. The only character who felt like a cartoon in a serious drama was the grandmother played by Susan Sarandon. She doesn’t seem to be disturbed at all with the loss of her grandchild and functions as somewhat of a misplaced comic relief, despite her serious talks with Susie in the first part of the movie.
With the supernatural element taken away, including all the CGI, The Lovely Bones could have been a beautiful drama and thriller combined. But now the movie collapses under the sugar coated Limbo.