Wednesday 27 October 2010

The Lovely Bones (2009) - Peter Jackson

I'll admit, I'm slightly biased with this one.  I'm a big fan of both Alice Sebold's novel and Peter Jackson, so I was bound to like this before I'd even pressed play.

This is a family drama centred on the Salmon family in the 1970s, as they experience life after the murder of their daughter Susie (Saoirse Ronan).  The twist is that the story is narrated by Susie herself, stuck in the Inbetween between her family's reality and heaven.  Visually, this film is magnificent, though it deviates somewhat from the novel.  Jackson has chosen to emphasise Susie's world, filled with fantastical, surreal beauty.  The bright, soft lighting and primary colour pallete highlight Susie's innocence and the fact this story is very much hers.  Also look out for a cheeky Lord of the Rings reference in the book shop at the start...

The payoff is that the film lacks some characterisation, whilst the book tells a darker and more detailed family drama.  Jackson focuses on the father-daughter relationship rather than the wider family complexities.  In particular, the relationship between Susie's parents (Wahlberg and Weisz) is not given enough screen time.  Susan Sarandon's portrayal of the grandmother is perhaps overly comic.  And we never really find out enough about the murderer to know why the events took place.  The trouble, of course, with all adaptations is that you can't include everything.  What is included here is very well done, but the film works best as a companion piece to the book.

As a standalone film, it still works.  But purely as a creative piece of film, it's well worth seeing.  Just read the book first.