Right now, The Lovely Bones is sitting on Rotten Tomatoes rated at a meager 36 percent, while Avatar, the hype machine of 2010, is rated at 80 percent. What does this say to me? It simply portrays how the masses are switching out deep, piercing storylines and brilliant cinematography for a movie that’s alive based on its admittedly great CGI and lucid meaning. I’m not saying Avatar isn’t an OK movie – I haven’t seen it – but from the trailer, plot synopsis, reviews and accounts of it I’ve heard from fans of the movie, I can’t imagine it being better than Peter Jackson’s latest film.
The Lovely Bones, based on the novel by Alice Seabold, recounts the story of a child’s murder, rape and her father’s attempts at revenge. All the while, protagonist Susie Salmon is kept in a state of perpetual juxtaposition between the world of the living and her heaven unable to communicate with her family though anything but infrequent passing gestures. The movie does a great job switching between the horrific heaviness of Stanley Tucci’s role as her murderer and the fancifulness of her heaven. The movie switches frequently between the two, only pausing long enough in one for the emotions of it to crash down upon you before it switches back to the other, driving the previous emotion out faster than you’d believe possible. This juxtaposition between the incredibly sad and fanciful seems to be what drove most people away from the movie, but if you’ve got an appreciation for the way they seamlessly blend the styles then you’ll be happy with it. This movie doesn’t just cross the two genre’s threads but creates a tangled knot between the fairy tale and thriller genres with a few sparse sections of subdued comedy and ’70s throwback styling.
The narration style used throughout the film where actress Saoirse Ronan recites key lines of prose from Seabold’s novel is used to great avail, and really brings the story to life when blended in with her live action shots. Ronan’s acting in this movie is incredible; during blissful scenes you can tell the young actress has an appreciation for the intricacies of the novel, and in the more adrenaline-packed scenes her fear seems completely genuine. On a similar note, after his terrible acting in The Happening it took a lot for Mark Wahlberg to vindicate himself in my eyes, but he pulls it off in The Lovely Bones. Alongside his wife (Rachel Weisz) he seems like a truly concerned parent, and you can feel his frustration at the wrongful death of his daughter. Stealing the spotlight, however, is Stanley Tucci. He’s truly fearsome as Salmon’s murderer. You can tell every facet of his
performance is meticulously careful; every single action, every single word just sweats with creepiness. Tucci’s performance is truly frightening and not in any kind of horror-slasher villain way, but in a way that makes any time he’s on the screen a truly frightening moment where you’re not sure exactly what he’ll do.
Overall, The Lovely Bones is a movie that doesn’t deserve to be overlooked or criticized for the juxtaposition between good and evil. While there are a few missteps in the overall execution, such as a slightly softened-up Hollywood storyline, it’s an incredible film. The Lovely Bones is the first movie I’ve seen in 2010, and it was definitely the best choice. So come on, skip the 3D glasses and one-dimensional Hollywood movies overrunning the box office and go see a movie that sports incredible acting, a genre defying execution and visually stunning landscapes without all of the gimmicks.