Delivering a screenplay of a novel with such scope and depth was undoubtedly a daunting task, and for the most part the scribes effectively communicated the emotional intricacies of Alice Sebold’s work (although fans of the book will find much of the third-act familial drama gone). This isn’t surprising, though, given the confines of page to screen time.
Peter Jackson delivers once again as a director (and turns in a Hitchcockian cameo as well): The film is one of visual eye-candy without the tour de force of his recent summer fare, and the careful restraint in which he handles the material is moving and conveys his astounding range as a filmmaker (no zombies gettin’ chewed up with a lawnmower here). The Lovely Bones is heartfelt, certainly, without ever utilizing the ‘on the nose’ tear-jerker narrative gags with which we’ve all become familiar. Brian Eno‘s score, too, reflects this approach and proves beautiful and haunting at the same time.
My only complaint is the amount of script time dedicated to the killer; his actions impact the novel’s narrative, but as a character he’s rather extraneous. Actor Stanley Tucci (portraying the child killing murderer), however, does indeed turn in a rather despicable and chilling performance.
The standout is Saoirse Ronan’s performance as the lead … She positively owns the film, and given the flick’s release date of December 11 and Ronan’s 2007 nom for Atonement, Dreamworks clearly positioned the film for a 2010 Oscar consideration, and it will undoubtedly receive such.
The Lovely Bones is an emotional ride – stunning and thoughtful – and should appeal to virgins of the material and fans of the literary source alike.
Look for our full review soon.
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