Movie review: As adaptation, 'Lovely Bones' somewhat broken
In 1973, Susie Salmon (Saoirse Ronan from “Atonement”) is a bright, 14-year-old girl who is treasured by her family and falling in love for the first time. But just as Susie’s life is truly beginning, a quiet middle-aged neighbor named George Harvey (Stanley Tucci) attacks and kills her, and her body never is found. Susie’s disappearance throws the family into turmoil. Her younger sister, Lindsey (Rose McIver), struggles with sadness and suspicions, and parents Jack and Abigail (Rachel Weisz, Mark Wahlberg) start to drift apart due to the stress.
Through it all, Susie is watching them from “the in-between,” a purgatory where all the beloved things from her short life blend together, seasons change dramatically and Harvey’s other young victims wait as the perpetrator squirms through his sorry life. Jackson stages his “in-between” moments meticulously and with the lysergic otherworldliness of a Maxfield Parrish painting.
But while visually remarkable, those sequences come off like great moments in computer-generated grandstanding when a human touch was desperately needed. Sebold’s story is about emotions and Susie’s sense of loss at not growing up, about being denied a future with her would-be boyfriend, Ray Singh (Reece Ritchie), and being unable to warn the rest of her family about the killer down the street. Ronan brings the right level of yearning and frustration to her performance, and Tucci (barely recognizable under heavy makeup) is typically strong, but their acting is frequently overwhelmed by Jackson’s visual conceits.
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