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Review: The Lovely Bones Movie

by Erin Mawn

This past Friday night, I was one of the many people who saw “The Lovely Bones” on its opening night. I was surprised at how many young people there were in the theater, but that was probably due to the fact that the movie is rated PG-13, so no parents are required. I must admit that I was concerned about the quality of the movie; beforehand, I could not resist looking up some reviews of it and the majority of them seemed disappointed that the movie did meet its potential.

It is true that the movie takes some liberties, but I was relieved that it leaves the more important things alone. For example, the reader and movie go-er are not surprised at what happens to Susie Salmon because both the book and the film tell us immediately that something horrible befalls the young narrator. I was worried that perhaps the film would focus on that one terrible scene in order to increase the drama and horror of the story, but like in the book, the terrible incident is merely the catalyst for the story, not the focus of it.

Since I already talked about the story when I reviewed the book a couple months ago, I’ll focus on the film aspects of it: I was impressed with Stanley Tucci’s portrayal of George Harvey. I did not even realize that it was Tucci in this role when I saw the movie trailers because he looks like the quintessential creep. (I am used to Tucci in more likeable roles, such as “The Devil Wears Parada” and the Kit Kittredge American Girl movie.) His performance almost overshadows that of

Saoirse Ronan, who plays the protagonist Susie Salmon because the audience is so horrified by his character. Not to say that Ronan is not ideal for the role of Susie Salmon: her adolescent beauty (caught perfectly between a girl and a woman) is striking and she emanates an innocence so endearing and believable that the audience is truly saddened when she is robbed of it.

Her parents are played by Mark Wahlberg and Rachel Weisz, who are both very believable in their roles. One of the reviews I read stated that Weisz was “unlikable” in this movie role, but I disagree. She is not supposed to be charming the audience into liking her, she is supposed to be a grieving mother. The character I could have done without is that of Grandma Lynn, which is too bad because normally I love Susan Sarandon. I just think that this character is such a cliché, the older woman, who is losing her looks, is outspoken and ostentatious and a raging alcoholic, so much that she sips liquor from her grandson’s toy truck. There is a short music montage which shows Grandma Lynn attempting to become a domestic goddess, but of course she shrinks the clothes, lets the washer run over with suds, etc. I feel that that scene in particular was completely unnecessary and was only added to try and lighten the tone of the movie and/or provoke giggles from the teenagers in the audience.

I always love to discuss the costumes and set designs of movies; since this story takes place in the 1970’s, it is only fitting that we would see some big collars, but neither the wardrobe choices nor the set designs are overpowering. They say “1970’s”, but they don’t scream it.

I think that this film does a decent translation of the book, and I would recommend it to people who have not the read the book, and also to people to have, though perhaps with a general disclaimer that accompanies most film adaptations of well-loved books: the book is better.

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