The Lovely Bones:
A Story Of Family, Devotion, and The Evil That Men Do..
More times then should in this world, the movie industry tosses around terms like "life changing", "awe inspiring", "Masterpiece" and the like, but of all those times, often, its misleading and untrue, more then likely the movie will be flat, and uninteresting and be swept under the red carpet until awards season, where we will all marvel at how it even came to garner so many awards. Thankfully, in the case of The Lovely Bones, this isn't the case at all, it is well deserving of all the praise and adulation that comes its way, long time readers will tell you thats not exactly a statement I toss around lightly, or much at all honestly. Peter Jackson, the man behind such films as the modern adaption of Lord Of The Rings, as well as last year's awe inspiring epic District 9, once again steps to the plate and hits a home run, proving more then ever his flopsterpiece 2005's King Kong was nothing more then a fluke. Jackson carefully and as faithfully as possible to the book on which this film is based, takes us into a beautifully tragic and surreal world, where we see not only life in the world we know, but shows of what the hear after is like, both are done in beautiful detail, you find the other world just incredibly surreal and breathtaking, and you truly feel that the real world cira 1973, really is a small town in Pennsylvania in 1973, which I personally love, if something looks out of place it totally takes me out of the story, and I just can't find myself getting back into it at all, but thankfully, thats not the case here.
The Lovely Bones is the story of Suzie Salmon, like the fish, its the story of her life, the story of her death, and the story of her watching those who she left behind, how she never forgets them, how they never forget her, the love that bonds them all, but it is also the story of vengeance for Suzie's death, and how she doesn't feel she can leave until that has happened. The film starts with us meeting young Suzie, she narrates an early scene in her life, then fast forwards to her current age, 14, its 1973, before children were put on milk containers and before people canvased the neighborhood looking at the neighbors when a child goes missing, Suzie tells you of her life, her love of photography, her dreams to be a famous wild life photographer, her love of her family, her special relationship with her grandmother, and her love for a young man named Ray Singh. You find yourself drawn into Suzie's life, her warm loving family, her younger sister, her younger brother, and all the funny they are, you also find of her love of her father, who teaches her how to build ships in a bottle, just like his grandparents and parents taught him, a family tradition as it were, and though you find yourself loving Suzie's life, and smiling and laughing at it, Suzie then tells you of what happened on December 6th, 1973, the day she was raped and murdered, by a man that no one expected, because back then, no one expected the strange creepy man who lives near by.
On the day that Suzie died, she was running home late from school, she had joined a film club so she could be closer to Ray Singh, a british boy whom she liked, and who liked her, after Ray asks her on her very first date, and almost gives her, her very first kiss, she rushes home, cutting through a field where she crosses paths with Ruth Conners, a girl who lives alone near an old farm with a sinkhole that everyone drops old broken things into, its said that Ruth can see things that others can not, in that field Suzie also encounters her murderer, George Harvey a dollhouse maker who lives near her and her family, he convinces her to have a look at what he calls "a clubhouse" he built underground for the children of the neighhorhood, so they "could have a place that was just their own". Suzie goes down underground with him, but she never comes out alive. George murders Suzie down there, underground he cuts her throat with an old shaving razor, she dies down there, where no one ever hears her scream, George then caves in the underground structure, one week later all they find of evidence is Suzie's hat and alot of blood, this revelation, with out any idea of who her murderer is, her family starts to fall apart, her parents drift apart, her younger brother and sister both talk about how they can see her, her younger brother Buckley, taking on an almost Sixth Sense like role, stating many times "Suzie is in the in-between" and talking of her coming and kissing him before he sleeps, her younger sister Lindsey saying similar things but to a lesser extent, at this point Suzie's father starts to obsess over her death, investigating on his own feeling the police are not doing enough, this causes Suzie's mother, who hasn't delt with her death at all, to leave for awhile.
From limbo, which is referred to as "the in-between", "the blue horizon" and "her own personal heaven", Suzie watches as her family falls apart, and feels sad, sad because she misses them all, and sad because she's powerless to stop what is happening to them. At this point Suzie meets a young asian girl calling herself Holly Golightly which she states is "a borrowed name", after Holly tells Suzie they are dead, and that they need to go to heaven, Suzie says she can't yet, that she's not ready, there are things she needs to do first, Holly decides to stay with her in the in-between, where they become best friends, and are happy together, even though Suzie constantly watches her family, and she also watches Ray Singh, who sits at the spot in The Mall that she and him were to meet, hoping that maybe she would appear and it would all be just a dream, this is where Suzie watches as Ruth meets Ray, handing him the poem he'd tucked into Suzie's book, stating she found it, and believed it belonged to him. She then tells him that she can see Suzie, that she doesn't understand how, or why, but she can see her, feel her, hear her, Ray and Ruth grow close as the film goes on, bonded in their grief over Suzie, Ray always carries a picture of her with him which he takes out and looks at often, talking to it, wishing she was there.
As the film progresses you watch as Suzie watches her loved ones grow up and change, but you also see that she watches George Harvey, the man who killed her, as he thinks he's gotten away with his crime, she watches as he torments himself and ponders what he'd done, almost as if in his own twisted way savoring it. She watches as the police interview George, and how he basically confesses what he's done, even though the police don't notice, you find yourself yelling at the screen how his words are giving away the fact he's telling them, in a sense, putting you in Suzie's place as she watches this all going down. As the film goes on, you go more and more into George's mind, and how demented it is, as the film progresses, you see that Suzie's sister, and then later her father, start to suspect George, leading to her sister getting the information that proves he killed her, and discovering that George had plans to kill her as well. Before this, it leads to Suzie's father first accusing George who panics and runs into his house, causing her dad to leave a large hole in his door, and then later a scene where Suzie, from the other side, wills her father to seek out vengeance for her death, shadowing and then following George into a cornfield where he watches teenagers go to have sex, its implied that he plans on killing two of them as well as Suzie's sister.
Once George is found out, he panics, and runs, and all the peaces come together, Suzie finally is able to face the house that its said she can't go to heaven with out walking through, which happens to be George's house, she discovers he's murdered many others, two adults, but mostly teenage girls, the only exception being a 6 year old girl, she discovers that her friend Hanna was the girl George had killed before her. With knowing the truth, and knowing her family was going to find peace and justice for her murder, she can finally go to heaven, where she is greeted by all of George's other victims, who embrace her for finally making their killer known. As they're about to go, Suzie stops, she looks to Hanna and says "I have one last thing to do.." she then descends to earth, taking over Ruth's body, she says her good bye to Ray, who tells her he still loves her, she tells him she loves him, and she finally gets the first magical kiss that every girl her age dreams of getting. The film ends with George at a roadside all night cafe trying to lure another woman for him to kill, who promptly tells him to go to hell, as he yells that he was just trying to be a nice guy, a large icecle falls down his back, and as he tries to get it by shaking his shirt and moving around, he falls off the edge of the parking lot into a creekbed, hitting alot of rocks breaking his body the whole way down, George's body lies frozen down there, in the bottom of the creekbed, and Suzie does the final beautiful but bittersweet narration as you see how her family has grown up and gotten older and stronger and still miss and love her, and how she finally decided it was time for her to leave for heaven, though she still watches over everyone from where she is.
The cast is just amazing, Mark Walberg plays Suzie's father Jack Salmon, the obsessive accountant who will not give up on his daughter is just incredible, Rachel Weisz as her mother Abby Salmon really feels natural and real, you feel her greif most of all, Susan Sarandon's job as Lynn, Suzie's grandmother is just incredible and funny in so many ways, but the stand outs in this are definitely the great Stanley Tucci as demented child killer George Harvey, you start to find yourself believing he is capable of actually murdering someone and keeping their body as he does, but even above that is mostly unknown Saoirse Ronan as Suzie Salmon herself, she is just amazingly good as the dead girl who everyone doesn't want to be dead, you truly believe she is in the in-between, not ready to go to heaven and not ready to let go of her life and loved ones.
There are many differences from the book, there is no mention of the brutal rape that George does on Suzie before he kills her underground, just that he killed her, there is also no mention of his rape of the others he killed, just that he killed them, I personally find that a good move, if you sell George as a child rapist as well as a murderer, it just makes the character over the top in this film, he is a horrible enough person, which fits the role just fine. The final scene with Suzie and Ray where Suzie takes over Ruth's body is different in the book as well, they have sex after they kiss in the book, where in the movie they just kiss and embrace one final time. There are other differences too, the disposal of the body is different in the book and the film, and afew other things that really aren't overly important, so they won't really ruin the film for you if you've read the book. The film is, itself, an all around great film with the makings of a cult hit. So if you haven't see it yet, please do, you will not regret your choice.
*note: If you click on the images, they are all insanely beautiful super hi-rez photos that just look so very stunning when viewed on their own.