The Lovely Bones will leave you stunned. Read this either way, as a good thing or a bad. As I walked out of the theatre, I didn’t know what to think. Did I like it? Did I not like it? All I know was that I felt like a soggy, wrung-out Kleenex. Oh wait, that’s what was balled up in my hand.
The first thing to knock you over is the subject matter. Based on the book by Alice Sebold, The Lovely Bones tells of the brutal murder of a beautiful high school girl named Susie. Her death impacts everyone around her, and everyone is attempting to come to terms with their newly shattered reality. Not surprisingly, the family slowly begins to disintegrate in its pain. They flail around seeking answers and peace for their broken souls.
No one struggles more than Susie herself. She is stuck in limbo, torn between clinging to the love of her family and her desire for revenge against her killer, and the encouragement from a friend she meets in Heaven to move forward. All of this is enough to rip your heart open, and as insinuated earlier, be prepared for some serious tear duct action.
The second thing that will leave you stunned is the performances. Saoirse Ronan plays Susie. She begins this movie portraying a wide-eyed innocent on the cusp of first love and womanhood, and ends a murdered soul seeking solace. Susan Sarandon is fabulous as the grandmother who moves in to pick up the pieces and try to put them back together again. Mark Wahlberg and Rachel Weist are effective as the grieving parents. Finally, Stanley Tucci is our villain. He oozes a slimy evil that is practically palpable. The best, or worst, part though: Tucci creates a true monster in our midst. Is there anything scarier than that?
Next up is Heaven. Peter Jackson, of Lord of the Rings fame, directed The Lovely Bones. He creates an expansive, dynamic, beatific realm. Heaven, with today’s capability for special effects, is quite the place. It is visually stunning. However, if you are not buying Mr. Jackson’s interpretation, his Heaven might be an overblown distraction.
Overall, The Lovely Bones is a solid movie. It has an interesting story, great performances, and in beautifully depicted. Just be prepared for your soul to be somewhat stunned by the impact.