The Lovely Bones - Blu-ray Review

'although Jackson's dalliances with his fantasy stock do distract, there's still a really rather great film here which deserves more credit than it was afforded'

If you stripped away around a third of The Lovely Bones and re-edited it slightly, you'd get what would happen if Peter Jackson made a straight serial killer film. It'd be about ninety-minutes long, feature terrifically teased performances from most of the cast, be well lit, well shot and expertly produced. It would also make for absolutely compelling cinema, watching an almost Scorsese-like thriller in the hands of a man with an eye for the finer details and a thorough knowledge of what his audience wants.

Of course, The Lovely Bones isn't that film. Based on Alice Sebold's novel about a girl (Saoirse Ronan) who is murdered and watches her family from the 'in between' (like purgatory, without the cast of Lost), The Lovely Bones is a more tricky beast entirely, combining a more straight family drama in the aftermath of a terrible event, with something supernatural and unworldly, as we spend time with Ronan's Susie in her afterlife.

This gives Jackson and all his creative ability a dilemma; reign himself in or go all visually creative on the other world. Unfortunately, he chooses the latter and the comparisons that sprung up around the time of the film's cinema release to Super Mario Galaxy are apt. Juxtaposed with the very real, very tense and excruciatingly painful 'real world', Jackon's trips to Susie and her afterlife just don't work or fit and every departure there feels like a distraction from what's happening with Susie's parents and other assorted important characters. These characters are, unequivocally, the main source of enjoyment in the film and whilst Susie is necessary for them to function, the real interest here is rooted in those interactions.

That said, and although Jackson's dalliances with his fantasy stock do distract, there's still a really rather great film here which deserves more credit than it was afforded. Rightly picked out as the highlight, Stanley Tucci is incredible as George Harvey, the quiet neighbour turned something else entirely and the transformation he undergoes when compared to say, his work on ER two year's ago is really dumbfounding. Mark Wahlberg, a late replacement for Ryan Gosling, is fine and Susan Sarandon, although out of place in all the melancholy, has a ball as the neurotic Grandma. Ronan is great and kudos must also go to Rose McIver who plays her sister in a challenging role which asks a lot and from which, she emerges victorious.

So sure, the moments in the afterlife don't work but other great touches (the dollhouse imagery, the scene with Lindsey Salmon in Harvey's house, Susie revealing Harvey's crimes) really do. There are problems besides Jackson's imagery and why he felt the need to lift so much narration from the book or why he uses HD cameras only for extreme close-ups I'll never fully understand but there's still a master at work here, producing a film which will satisfy fans of the book and entertain most who come in blind. Destined to go down as an under rated but really quite attractive drama.

Look further...

'For every flash of excellence such as Tucci’s skin crawling turn as the killer, there are equally weak or annoying elements such as the awful Grandma Lynn character' - Darkmatters, 6/10


  1. Definitely disagree with you on this one man. To me, this was as misguided an effort as I had seen last year. A collection of mediocre scenes stuck together with no fluidity. A plot that just dangles around, hopping from chapter to chapter desperate to find some heart. And it never does.

    Personally, I just couldn't wait for it to end.

  2. I'm sure you're not the only one and I've seen plenty of negative reviews but its obviously divisive (I've seen plenty of good reviews too). I really enjoyed it and as I say, I thought the 'real world' segments were quite compelling, especially in the first 30 minutes.

    A fairly rare difference of opinion I believe then Mr. Univarn!

  3. OK, since there is some controversy and I've been disagreeing a couple of times, I'll be with you on this ranking. I actually thought this should have received more hype since I didn't hear much about it after it was released. The person I watched it with actually gave it a perfect score. I wouldn't argue with that, but mine would maybe be slightly lower. Very underrated film.

    1. Completely open to controversy! All opinions valid and, as previously stated, a credit to you, Sir, that your disagreements are voiced with politeness and backed up with reasoning.

      I've not watched this since this review. One I'd like to go back to but I remember thinking it was absolutely fine, apart from those trips to the afterlife. The abduction bits: perfect. My sort of thing.