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>> Saturday, January 16, 2010

I still don't really understand the title...
There were two things that drove me to see this movie. The first was Peter Jackson's reputation does unfortunately precede him by this point. Lord of the Rings was well done and King Kong was epic, although long and perhaps even slightly under appreciated by most. However, Lovely Bones did not seem like the cup of tea Jackson was likely to drink from, but I'm glad he did.

At the heart of all Jackson's films, there is a romantic notion. In this case it was the idea that good will overcome evil and no matter how gone someone is they are not really "gone". They have drifted off into a world where nothing may make sense but jumping onto a sleigh and letting a small dog take you over a cliff is but one of many ways to spend an afternoon, if such a thing exists in Susie Salmon's in-between. This "in-between" is a beautifully, well-imagined visual sensation that is used cleverly to tie both worlds of fantasy and truth together. This is no doubt what interested Jackson in the first place. Yet after seeing the movie, this is not what ended up being it's biggest strength, and it certainly not what has gelled most with me.

The queerest part about the film is when one would think for a second that the narrator, Susie Salmon (over-acted only slightly by Saoirse Ronan) was speaking in the past and present tense at the same time. Saying things like "this is the man that would eventually murder me" is a weird thing to hear. The idea of it all gives one a sense of relaxed and chilled oddness filled with hope that if Susie was to assist in solving her own murder, she would wake up and still be alive and everything would be back to normal, a'la It's a Wonderful Life. Obviously that would be a cheesy ending and a let down, but it doesn't stop one for hoping it still happens. This movie works well as a classic example that story is still king in a world filled with visual and CG temptation.

This type of narration though, is only part of a series of performances that worked well in the movie. Mark Wahlberg ends up being surprisingly good and genuine as Susie's dad, Jack, Susan Surandon steals every scene she's in as Grandma Lynn, and Stanly Tucci does nothing less then fill out every possible trait to its fullest with his character George Harvey, the film's nothing-less-than-creepy pedophile neighbour. Unfortunetly I still remember him as the real bad guy, Frank, from Pauly Shore's Jury Duty.

Lovely Bones in the end works as a fantastic movie that aims for nothing less than to please it's audience. It is a mix of What Dreams May Come and Ghost, so in that sense it will feel like you're treading familiar ground, but it still manages to work it's way through that familiarity to produce something newer and slightly (but not badly) chilling. It's not terribly realistic, and you will feel inspired by the scenery Susie gets to experience, in way that makes you kind of wish you were in her place, which is where the film's only real fault lies.

Post-'end of the year new drama Oscar hopefuls', things have died down in theatres a little as far as drama is concerned. And if vampires, angels and post-apocolyptic movies aren't your thing, I see no reason not to walk through this door into the in-between played out in Lovely Bones.
*Still courtesy of Dreamworks

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