Monday, January 18, 2010

The Lovely Bones

The Lovely Bones was released in Canada on January 15, 2010. The cast is strong, featuring Saorise Ronan, Mark Wahlberg, Natalie Weisz, Stanley Tucci and Susan Sarandan. The director is Peter Jackson, whom we know best for the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but has been writing, producing and directing great films fairly consistently for years.

The film is adapted from the book by the same name, written by Alice Sebold. In The Lovely Bones, we get the story of Susie Salmon, a 12 year old girl who is murdered, and she narrates her own story from heaven. But the story is not a simplistic one. It is the story of an unsolved murder, of a dead little girl trapped in the "in-between" with unfinished business, of a family struggling to cope, of an afterlife perspective. When I first heard the book would be made a film, I seriously doubted it could be done. But the transition from novel to film is a respectable job in this case, and that not being a simple task with this particular book.

Based on that fact, I think adapted screenplay is this film's best chance at an Oscar nomination. Jackson may also get a nod for the directorship, which was also very sharp. The techniques used to try to communicate spiritual concepts were relatively effective, and for the most part escaped the tacky realm. The acting was quite good. We saw Ronan's capacity for brilliance in Atonement, and she does not disappoint. This year Best Actress will be a very competitive field, but she may get a nomination just the same. Both Wahlberg and Weisz were also very good in supporting roles, and Tucci was brilliant. If either of the three are nominated, I'm rooting for Tucci. He nailed creepy serial killer, and when I consider his flexibility in recent years I'm ready for him to be recognized. With ten films in the Best Picture category this year, it may even make the cut of ten. But it would not have made a five-cut, and it will not win Best Picture.

The Lovely Bones is a unique accomplishment, and certainly a movie you'll want to have seen when the Academy opens the envelopes.

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