Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Review - The Lovely Bones

It's hard to imagine the writer/director/producer of the epic Lord of the Rings trilogy taking on a project too ambitious for him, but wouldn't you know it, bridging the gap between heaven and earth just might just do it. His adaptation of The Lovely Bone is full of potential and thought-provoking substance, but is just too flawed to ignore.

Saoirse Ronan plays Suzie Salmon, a 14 year-old girl who is murdered by the neighbourhood psychopath (Stanley Tucci), and then proceeds to watch the events that unfold on earth from her own personal limbo.

As is always the case with Peter Jackson, the film is visually arresting. The effects are picturesque, and DP Andrew Lesnie makes creative use of distorting lenses to indicate the overlap of the real world and Suzie's, aided along by a very sophisticated sound mix. But for all its technical pedigree, The Lovely Bones messes up too many opportunities in simply telling the story. The intricacies of plot and character development are lost, drowned in the showiness of the effects, photography, and production design. The characters may be well acted but they are mishandled from a writing perspective, not given the depth and layering they deserve. The biggest victim of this his Stanley Tucci as the killer Mr. Harvey, whose performance is dwarfed by Jackson's own representation of the character through bluntly creepy mood music and perpetually dark photography. The entire film suffers from this type of stylistic overkill. Moments that should take 10 seconds take 10 minutes, and visa versa. The ending is a good example of a scene that should not have been allowed to stretch on as it did. Long story short: shoulda been better.

Most are pegging Stanley Tucci for a Supporting Actor nod by simple virtue of the fact that he's never been nominated and he has a strong body of work. In a perfect world, he would be up for his wonderful turn in Julie & Julia instead, but I guess he'll gladly take whatever he can get. A nod for Cinematography is not out of the question.

**1/2 out of ****

1 comment:

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

I saw this an hour ago. Still mulling over thoughts, but I'm more generous. I actually think it's the best that could have been done with the story. I think I liked it a lot. But I'll give it a few days.