The Lovely Bones

by | Jan 18th, 2010 | 8:15PM | Filed under: Theatrical Reviews

Archly stylized, emotionally heavy, and toting all sorts of cinematic and literary pedigrees, The Lovely Bones sets out to say and do so much, but more often sadly ends up overwrought and under-thought.

Lovely-Bones-Poster Let me state three things up front:

1) I have not read Alice Sebold’s book, The Lovely Bones. Normally I'd say you certainly don't have to have read a book when evaluating its film adaptation, but in this case the book is so beloved, the movie version is seen more more as an adaptation first and a film second. I can only speak to the latter.

2) Director Peter Jackson and his co-writers Fran Walsh and Phillipa Boyens are responsible for one of my favorite cinematic achievements of all time: The Lord of the Rings. For that alone, they will always be in my personal Hall of Fame.

3) I don't believe in any sort of afterlife—not secular, not scientific, not ghosts, not Heaven, not reincarnation, not Candyland… nothing.

I only mention these things because I'm interested in how where you stand on them may factor to some degree into how you feel about Jackson et al’s film adaptation of The Lovely Bones.

It’s 1973, and 14-year-old Susie Salmon, full of life and anxious to experience love, is lured into an underground Hell and murdered. And that’s where Susie’s story really begins. Hovering in the “In Between”—the place Earthly spirits stop off on their way to Heaven—Susie looks down on her grieving family, her furtive killer living next door to them, and the dreamy boy-crush from whom she’d hoped to receive her first kiss. For Susie, the In Between is an amusement park of the afterlife, full of delightful colors and foliage and occasionally littered with pretty heavy-handed visual symbolism of how events on Earth are echoing the cathartic spiritual journey Susie must fulfill before she moves on up to the Pearly Gates.

Devotees of Sebold’s surprise 2002 best-seller will certainly come to the film version with expectations and quibbles, and have already voiced their displeasure over how Jackson, the one-time gore-horror enthusiast, has toned down the story’s pivotal murder and removed all mention of the rape in order to make the film more palatable for a younger crowd (namely the Twihards). (To be fair, the film still maintains plenty of chilling PG-13 dread and horror around the event.)

Thelovelybonespic18suzebetweenAnd despite my eternal reverence for Jackson’s LOTR achievement, I found his labor of love on 2005’s King Kong to be a well-done, but overdone near miss. Kong’s parade of action and monsters was right in Jackson’s wheelhouse and it still came up short.

The Lovely Bones is a step in a different direction for the director—sure, it still revolves around a horrific murder, and sure, he explored the dramatic fantasy world of young women in his 1994 Heavenly Creatures. But The Lovely Bones needed to function more as a deeply emotional study of grief and loss than a murder-mystery thriller. Jackson can do the latter, but simply cannot seem to lock in on the former.

Then there's The Lovely Bones’ presentation of a just and perfect afterlife—an “in-between” place where the deceased can party like disco still lives and make fleeting, distant contact with the living before they move on to Heaven. My question is to what extent the film's afterlife is not just a fantastical storytelling device, but instead homespun, comforting wish fulfillment. Is The Lovely Bones the kind of film some people come away from saying “ooh, I like that idea of the afterlife—I think it could really be like that, and that makes me feel better about dying and about all the bad things people do and have done to them on Earth. Like raping and murdering, or being raped and murdered.”

I have no problem with a book or film using the notion of an afterlife as a plot point or an interesting way of telling a tale. But more than something like Heaven Can Wait, Defending Your Life or even The Rapture, there's a sense that The Lovely Bones is set up to “sell” us its idea of the afterlife as a genuine emotional answer. The fact that the film puts so much of its thematic and entertainment appeal on the viewers buying into the In Between means that rather than draw me personally in, it alienated me. Which is why I mentioned my own feelings about an afterlife—there’s no doubt they affected how the movie played for me. If you have different beliefs, it may well play differently for you. 

Normally I'd say you don't have to believe in something supernatural or faith-based in order to appreciate a film that deals in those concepts. I like plenty of fantasy films, I love The Exorcist even though I don't believe in demons, I even appreciated Paranormal Activity. And I can name a lot of films likes those above or even It's a Wonderful Life where the notion of an afterlife is used to present a philosophical concept about how to appreciate your life and existence and how the world and people around you interconnect. But if the In Between in The Lovely Bones is merely there–as in those other films–to act as a metaphoric plot device to help deliver that message, then my problem with the film is that, like many films that reach for a deeper meaning, it doesn't deliver that message effectively.

Thelovelybonespic26wahlbergHowever, it could also be argued that the message some viewers might take from The Lovely Bones–on some level, conscious or sub-conscious–is that there is an afterlife/In Between and we should take comfort from knowing that death is not the end, that we can still "be with" our loved ones after their deaths or our own, that even if you die you can still remain connected to Earthly life.

In one of the film's better moments an uncharacteristically angry and bitter Susie cries, "Look at what he did to me. What am I now, the dead girl? The lost girl, the missing girl?! I'm nothing!" powerfully underscoring anyone's fear of truly being gone and forgotten — or reduced to a cliche — after their death. So is this a film that truly offers the viewer emotional and metaphysical comfort by saying, "here, this is what the afterlife could be like"? If so, then whether or not you believe in an afterlife is important to what you think of the film overall.

Even if you don’t care one way or another about Sebold’s book, have no idea who Peter Jackson is, and have no set thoughts on post-death metaphysics, The Lovely Bones doesn’t completely work as a film. It’s not a total failure, it’s not a complete mess or boring misfire. But it simply does not come together with the sort of genuinely heartbreaking wallop it so clearly seeks to deliver.

You can’t blame the cast, especially not Saoirse Ronan (Atonement), who as Susie is note-perfect both in life and death. She’s handed some archly emotional material—the appeal of Susie is her from-beyond wisdom and perspective filtered through her teenage aches and yearnings. But Ronan’s wide-eyed, hyper-expressive openness gets that mix just right, filling Susie with a richly ironic enthusiasm for life—she's Nancy Drew, Dead-Girl Detective, by way of Emily in Our Town.

Thelovelybonespic13tucci Stanley Tucci does almost as well with George Harvey, Susie’s murderer. Donning his sociopathic pedophile eye wear, he’s the more-realistic portrait of the serial killer not as a suave, European aesthete, but rather a dorky, pathetic loser constantly trying to fake a desperate, practiced calm and normalcy. He’s also, in his own sick way, an artist himself, letting his evil desires fuel the design of his creative death traps.

On first look I was shocked by Mark Wahlberg’s performance as Susie’s obsessed, grieving dad. It seemed to be flying in from a different, more offbeat and over-the-top film; Wahlbergville by way of Cage-land. But a second viewing puts Wahlberg’s tone a little more in line with the overall style of the film. Jack Salmon is weird and obsessive and somewhat out of step with the world around him.

Rachel Weisz, on the other hand, doesn’t have much to do as Susie’s mother—she’s barely there even when she is. (One of the character's major sub-plots from the book has been removed from the film.) And Susan Sarandon–as Susie’s chain-smoking, boozy, floozy grandmother–gamely serves her purpose as a comic-relief example of how to live a long, don’t-give-a-crap life to its fullest.

The story must somehow transmute the darkest nastiness of human
cruelty into transcendent hope without coming off as cheap and cloying.
(Here’s a secret: that’s the key to Life, too.) And while I haven’t
read Sebold’s book, judging by its popularity, it seems her prose was
able to do what Jackson, Walsh, and Boyens' screenplay cannot. You can
see what the film is reaching for, the spirit in which it was
assembled, but it doesn't get there.

Instead,
Jackson and his co-writers went for something easier, more familiar,
marketable and entertaining: a metaphysical murder mystery. The film's
main focus is on Susie helping her family members on Earth solve her
murder and on her confronting her killer's secrets–and that, not so
much her family's grief, becomes the true driving narrative and
thematic force of The Lovely Bones.

The film makers fall
back on manipulative button-pushing tricks and fantastic dazzle to
sneak around their inability to pull the film together. (How much all
this impresses you may depend on how familiar you are with the notion
of snow globes and ships in bottles as life symbols.) It all comes off
as one big show, an attempt to whip a personal tale into something epic
(a genre where Jackson is more at home), but it leaves The Lovely Bones emotionally bare.

As much as I still respect and admire Jackson, Walsh, and Boyens, in the end, The Lovely Bones is this year’s Benjamin Button. Nice ideas, touching moments, pretty images, and decent performances, but ultimately so thematically and tonally muddled it glides right over you, never truly connecting on any level other than cheap sentiment.


48 Responses to “The Lovely Bones

  1. Locke Peterseim
    Posted on January 20, 2010 at 2:46 pm

    Kristin, I will be VERY interested to hear your take as a fan of the book and someone who doesn’t believe in an afterlife.
    And I ‘d love ot hear from ANYONE who’s seen the film–viewers of all ages, whether you’ve read the book or not. They have been VERY aggressively marketing The Lovely Bones at teenage girls lately and I’m very curious to see what that target audience thinks of it. Please chime in!
    I just started the book last night (and can already see a LOT of interesting stuff in terms of how the film differs, the choices they made), so hopefully I’ll get caught up on it quickly and can chime in.

  2. moviegoer123
    Posted on January 20, 2010 at 3:11 pm

    We are cool on this.
    I am not arguing about this film, I’m just saying about the matters are in this film.
    I can tell the comments are getting more confusing because everyone says their own thing about this film.
    This will PROBABLY will be my last comment on this review unless something else comes by and I need to comment again but I am sure all of you understand that you get my point very well I am assuming.
    The last I’m going to say this (unless something else comes by): I no interest of seeing this film but I will be seeing the film soon.

  3. Kristin
    Posted on January 22, 2010 at 7:51 am

    OK, saw it last night and I did really enjoy it. My friend had that came with me had not read the book, and she liked it as well. As someone that has read the book, I thought the movie did provide a lot of emotional moments (especially as a parent, how could it not?), but I thought so many were missing as well. The relationship between Ray and Ruth was never really shown, and they rushed the part of the sister getting older, getting married, having her own daughter. I also wished they would have shown the police figuring out that Harvey was a serial killer. It’s great that in the movie Susie knows all the victims, but I wish they would have shown her family finding out as well. It’s hard for me to look at the movie separately from the book…but I think as a stand-alone movie it worked much better than The Time Traveller’s Wife.
    As I said in my last comment, I’m not a believer in the afterlife – but I should qualify that as I don’t believe in god/heaven/bible. I do believe in ghosts though, so maybe from that perspective I didn’t have a problem with ‘the in-between’ or the little signs Susie gave her dad. When I first picked up the book and read what it was about I didn’t think I would like it because I thought it would be all preachy or something, but I actually found that both the book and movie are almost a non-demoninational (sp?) type of story, more of a paranormal feel to them. Anyway, that’s my 2 cents. I liked it, but it is a very sad story with a great karma’s a bit@&…ending

  4. djskillz718
    Posted on January 26, 2010 at 1:34 pm

    why cant people jus give it 1-5 stars keep it simple. people disecting the whole movie and saying the book is better comparing it to avatar i dnt believe in heaven blah blah blah

  5. Locke Peterseim
    Posted on January 26, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    Well, Mr. or Ms. Skillz718, it’s because we are here on this site, both us writers and readers, because we LIKE to discuss movies–and it’s my JOB is to dissect them. And in this case there’s a LOT to talk about in terms of how it compares to the book, what ideas and beliefs people bring to it about the afterlife. If that bothers you, just read the blurb at the top of the review and ignore the rest of the discussion.
    Speaking of which, I’m about 100 pages into the book now and I have to say, I think I like the FILM better so far–I’m very surprised and fascinated by a lot of the choices and changes Jackson, Walsh, and Boyens made in the script (and there are many more than I expected–they were certainly much more liberal in rearranging and changing things then they were with LOTR) and certainly in the film’s depiction of the “In Between” (as opposed to “Heaven” as it’s definitely referred to in the book).
    Sebold’s “Heaven” is so specific, so spelled out and somewhat mundanely imagined–it really feels very banal and “on the nose” to me, like someone describing THEIR idea of Heaven, complete with rules and a bureaucratic structure. In contrast, I think what Jackson et al did with “The In Between” in the film is much more interesting (certainly more visually grabbing), more imaginative, and most importantly for the film, more mysterious, not nearly as neatly laid out.

  6. Jacquie
    Posted on January 26, 2010 at 2:19 pm

    Fortunately, there’s no conclusive evidence a film such as The Lovely Bones is good or bad, no matter how dedicated, and informed the critics may be. Film is still an art form, and therefore can be viewed by the observer who may find emotional succor in a film, or feelings of betrayal, and so much more. There is certainly a lot of room for dissection of the body, before it finally buried on a shelf at Blockbuster.
    There is enough murder and mayhem in the media. Peter Jackson took the high road in The Lovely Bones, revealing the story, but warming the human beings in it with compassion. I think he’s still at the top of his game.
    Kudos to everyone involved with the production of The Lovely Bones.

  7. HeatherSFisher
    Posted on January 26, 2010 at 3:32 pm

    I saw this book years ago and started to read it but was put off by the title. This year my brother gave it to me as a Christmas gift and I just KNEW he would want to know how I liked it. I read it in about 4 days (busy mom and full time employee…). I woke up wondering “are they going to find Susie’s body? are they going to figure who did it?” I fought reading the book but enjoyed the different plane on which Susie lived. I am a Christian and fully believe in God, the Father, Son, Holy Ghost and His preparation for me to live eternally in Heaven. That being said, I thought that Sebold’s interpretation of Heaven was simply unacceptable. I, however, can appreciate the novel and author despite my differences–and I do not choose to make this a religious argument. I understand that there are others who are atheistic or agnostic and this is not the place for that debate.
    I don’t know that I will rush out to see the movie at the theater (again, busy mom-not too many date nights with busy dad and when those do come across our plates, we certainly don’t want to see a movie with such emotional devastation as the death of a child). However, when it does go to DVD I will rent it. I am curious to see how the adaptation plays out. I suspect it will be NOTHING like my imagination-with the exception of Susie, the actors chosen are not the actors I would have picked (but who am I, ha!) I suspect there will be a disconnect, and like the book, it ended with dissonance for me. Irony-schmirony; I wanted justice for Susie.

  8. JerryG
    Posted on January 26, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    Rule one. When discussing or reviewing a film PLEASE lead off with cast members and director.
    It should not be necessary to plow thru paragraph after paragraph just to discover who is in the movie.

  9. Jessica Carlson
    Posted on January 26, 2010 at 4:28 pm

    I read the book two years ago, and saw the movie this past weekend. I absolutely LOVED the book. The movie was ok, but lacked a lot of points from the book. I do believe in the afterlife, I do believe there is a place that our spirits go to after we pass on.
    This movie is NOT about Susie being raped and murdered, nor was the book. This is a story of great tragedy & loss. And how the love and bond between a father and daughter even after death cannot ever be broken. This story is every parent’s nightmare. I praise Alice Sebold for her memorable story-telling abilities. The movie would have been a lot better if they had shown the affair between Len & Susie’s mother, and would have done much more justice to the film if they would have shown Mr. Harvey die the way Alice Sebold wrote it in the book. All and all, fantastic.

  10. moviegoer123
    Posted on January 26, 2010 at 5:56 pm

    Still The Time Traveler’s Wife is better because its not as disturbing as Lovely Bones.
    I read The Time Traveler’s Wife book ca. six months ago and enjoyed the story, the story was a little disturbing but this one seems more disturbing than this one.
    Avatar should’ve been a book! I would be reading that book if it was! Pandora is the coolest planet. In years to come Avatar will be remakes and I will watch everything that is Avatar. The sequel of Avatar will be coming around 2012, and I would still see Avatar since that film has a great message! Lovely Bones has a good message it seems but its like the Avatar’s message.

  11. Jane Turner
    Posted on January 26, 2010 at 6:28 pm

    This movie is like nothing ive ever seen before!the grapics are amazing!the story is soo good and i love the intense part where the sister i inside his house but nothing happens to her!This movie makes you relize there are bad people in the world that dont look like they would harm you but it happens all the time to young girls!so whatever you do dont walk off with STRANGERS!!!

  12. scbluelady
    Posted on January 26, 2010 at 7:13 pm

    Wow. It was more fun reading the comments than it was reading the review. (No offense Locke – it was a very good review.) I think we should all just ignore moviegoer123. She is one of those people who looks for opportunities to start a debate by saying seemingly ignorant and erroneous things. There is at least one everywhere. I do not know if I will see the film. As much as it costs to go to the movies, I might wait on this one to come out on dvd.

  13. Manda8282
    Posted on January 26, 2010 at 8:29 pm

    scbluelady,
    I completely agree with you. Why comment on something you know nothing about? Just makes a person sound very ignorant! My 12 y/o step daughter read the book and had a more mature understanding of the content than moviegoer123. The movie was not as good as the book, but it was worth the matinee price to see it. The movie left out a lot of important parts from the book, and a few characters as well as jumping around, but if all the detail was in the movie as is in the book we would be at the theatre for a couple days..:)but all in all still a good movie. As for moviegoer123 go find the blog for the Time Travelers Wife then!

  14. Locke Peterseim
    Posted on January 26, 2010 at 9:48 pm

    Hey folks, let’s go easy on moviegoer123 — she’s very young, she’s excited (maybe a little TOO excited) about the films she loves (Time Travelers’ Wife, Julie & Julia, The Blind Side, and now Avatar :) ), and yes, sometimes she makes comments or asks questions that seem a little odd or uninformed to some of us. But she’s a regular, enthusiastic commenter here, she loves to chime in, and I’m pretty certain she never intends to rile people up. She’s not a troll, I promise! At least I don’t think! :)
    And moviegoer123, they’re right — if you haven’t seen The Lovely Bones or read the book, it’s probably best not to try to comment on what the film or book are or are not about, or to compare them to movies you have seen.

  15. Elizabeth Mason
    Posted on January 27, 2010 at 8:22 am

    How truly sad I am for you. You spend so much time and energy trying to convimce us that there is no Heaven or Hell, you miss the whole point of the film. You are here to give us a narrative of the film and you spend all of your time wanting us to be as confused and miserable as you are. We are spiritual beings and you miss out on that and the afterlife is VERY real. I would much rather be living like there is a God, then get there and realize I was wrong. You must have had a terrible life, void of any visions to the true and living God or maybe you have just chose to harden your heart, as the reality of it is too much for you to bear. I hope you make this realization sooner, rather than later…..

  16. Lilurazko
    Posted on January 27, 2010 at 8:07 pm

    I did not care for either book. TTW was basically porn: vaguely science fiction and hardly romantic. Not saying anything against porn in general here. What I mean is that it’s like having a craving for cinnamon bears, and then when you put one in your mouth, surprise! It’s cherry! Yuck. I did not get a good idea of what TTW was going to be about before I read it (from my sci-fi/fantasy book club.) If I did know it was going to be time travel, sex, time travel again, sex again, repeat this cycle for several hundred pages, I would have had a different notion of what to expect. The movie, however, put the focus more appropriately on the characers and the story of their lives. It was much more interesting to watch and I enjoyed the actors’ performances. I also couldn’t understand why the book was named TTW when it focused on HIM and not HER. The movie focuses on her which made more sense to me, given the title.
    I had the same problem (cinnamon vs. cherry again) with The Lovely Bones. I was working at B&N when it came out and most of the staff was raving about it. I waited a couple of years before I picked it up (I am an avid reader and have a long waiting list for new titles) and what I thought was going to be a vigilante-style revenge tale was really about a ghost that couldn’t let go. I viewed it as her choosing to be stuck with this final moment of torment and pain instead of letting go and being able to move on to heaven. Not nearly as entertaining or riveting as I’d hoped. I would like to see the movie, but I will wait until the $1 theater or for the DVD rental. Hope the movie is better than the book like TTW. If anyone can do it, Jackson, et al can!

  17. Aly
    Posted on January 28, 2010 at 10:03 am

    Wow, Lilurazko- Very nice post! I haven’t read either book but that really sums it up- I believe what you said.
    I finally saw Lovely Bones.. and well, I was disappointed. I started to expect I would be since I was too hyped for my own good, but.. I feel like the beginning of the movie was very well made and realistic.. Then come the afterlife and tons upon tons of 3d work came into play. I thought it was over-kill on effects, and I’m sorry, but that asian girl (who’s name I do not recall.. something “do-good” or whatsits) was VERY annoying. I feel like once she stepped into the movie, it was downhill from there.
    (Possible spoiler if you keep reading-)
    Also the end of the movie.. I didn’t feel was statisfying whatsoever. Is that accurate to the book?? Maybe you shouldn’t tell me- I should read it- maybe. Well, tell me if you want! Either way, I could NOT stop laughing in the film after the Harvey scene at the end.. I felt it was so stupid and fake.. and well, what a movie does to try and either satisfy or conclude something when they don’t know how else to. Is it just me? Either way, I had to muffle myself to not bother other people in the theater! I got my sister laughing, too.. I think I laughed all the way until the end. Ahem, I really did not like the end in any way. Hopefully the book works it out better.. It just seemed like an instant wrap-up ending to me. I kinda thought that would be done with in movies..?

  18. Kristin
    Posted on January 28, 2010 at 12:00 pm

    @Elizabeth Mason – I’m sorry you feel that way, but no, a movie reviewer’s job is not to provide a narrative of the story. It is to provide their opinion of the movie based on a whole lot of different factors. If you want a narrative, go read the summary on the movie’s web page or IMDB. I think Locke was giving us background on himself on why he may have felt the way he did watching the movie so we could understand his review better. As a side note, it is possible for humans to be spiritual beings without believing in god or heaven. I would never tell you to not believe in god, so I find it very offensive that you assume we lived a terrible life because we don’t believe what you believe. My life has been pretty darn awesome thanks!
    @Aly, I would suggest reading the book, because there is so much more to the ending than that. I really did enjoy the book more than the movie and I agree that the movie ending was very rushed.

  19. moviegoer123
    Posted on January 28, 2010 at 9:21 pm

    Well, I’m not telling my age exactly on this site. I’m close to a teenager and just call it that. I am not a nine year old here at least I’m somewhat mature on this site.
    I know I’m coming back on this but yes, I love to chime in often or too much often. Well, I’m not a troll I don’t think. I do love to talk about films since I do have a huge interest in them. I know I’m odd and uninformed quite a bit.
    Guys, you can criticize me anyway you want and I still won’t care.
    Anyway, I shouldn’t have chimed in this conversation, oh well.
    My last words on the subject is: I do get excited about the films that I love! And, well one of them is Avatar and Locke is right on!

  20. whocares
    Posted on January 31, 2010 at 1:06 am

    i dont get why everyone dislikes the movie because
    1. it was too confusing
    and
    2. there was too much cgi
    first off, if you felt the movie was confusing then read the book.
    seriously, the books way better in my opinion and plus the book was just too vividly detailed to make into two hours.
    second, too much cgi? are you kidding me?
    the cgi was just enough to help show us the inbetween where susie was and i thought it was beautifully done :)
    plus everyone raves about avatar and i dont see why its all cgi, so thats a joke when people talk about how other movies had way too much cgi

  21. Jason
    Posted on February 4, 2010 at 12:04 pm

    I just finished the book last night in anticipation of watching the film. In the book, if read closely enough in the beginning, you would pick up on the fact that Susie doesn’t go to “Heaven” after her death, but rather “heaven” — her heaven. It’s only until she really lets go of her pain and loss of her life (and family) that she can transcend to Heaven.
    Anyways… yeah, I can’t see an atheist really appreciating a story like this, because it does kind of give a hard sell on an After-Life. However, I do think it “sells” the after-life more gracefully than “What Dreams May Come” tried to.
    Lastly, I don’t think this article’s writer should oversimplify his disconnect with the material. It’s relatively easy to enjoy a tale of “Middle Earth”, or “eyewitness reports” on aliens abductions, because at the end of the day (for the most part) they aren’t real.
    Conversely, everyone will die at some point. And I think on the deepest level we are all curious to some degree what might happen to us. What I’m trying to say is that the author may just have some unresolved issues with his faith — or lack thereof.
    P.S. — I’m agnostic by the way.

  22. Locke Peterseim
    Posted on February 4, 2010 at 6:06 pm

    I’m three-quarters finished with the book, and honestly, the more I read the book the more I like the film much better than the book! Sorry, but the book is probably way too much teen-love melodrama for my usual reading tastes. But it’s fascinating how Jackson et al stripped SO much of that stuff out to make the film more of a murder-mystery.
    And yes, basically what Jackson and the writers did was take the book’s lower-case “heaven” and call it “The In-Between,” while still preserving the idea that once Suzie is able to let go she will move on to upper-case “Heaven.”
    And I’ve come to enjoy the basic premise–that of a murder victim observing her family and killer from above. It sets up all sorts of nice, creepy, and poignant moments. So as I said in my original review, I like using the Afterlife as a storytelling tool, a literary conceit–I’ve used it in stories and screenplay ides of my own. And I’m finding the more I read and watch the film, the more I can step back from it and simply enjoy it as a story.
    I’m looking forward to finishing the book this weekend and then maybe next weekend watching the film one more time with my teenage niece–I have to say, I’ve spent a LOT more time thinking about THIS film, on which I’m lukewarm critically, than I have about films this winter that I’ve really loved! lol
    As to your other points, Jason, I only mentioned my disbelief in an Afterlife because I’m genuinely curious as to how a viewers’ metaphysical beliefs affect what they think of the film, since obviously the film is geared so much to those themes.
    So I’m trying hard not to get too much into arguments about whether or not there really IS an Afterlife or why I don’t believe in one. I’d rather keep it about the film (and book). But I’ll grant you that’s a pretty tricky separation to walk–maybe I shouldn’t have mentioned anything about my personal beliefs in the first place. But before you start making assumptions about why I do or do not believe in something, or my “unresolved issues,” just keep in mind I’m not here to lay all that out for you in this film blog comments page.
    I do really wish I could, but this simply isn’t the place for that discussion, and I apologize if it seems like I STARTED that discussion by mentioning belief in the Afterlife and am now tap dancing back from it — my question has always been, to what extent does belief in an Afterlife figure into how someone sees The Lovely Bones. Not, why you should or shouldn’t believe in an Afterlife.

    • Currently 4/5 Stars
    John
    Posted on September 25, 2012 at 1:17 am

    Just to echo an earlier post: why does it matter if you believe in heaven/bible/g-d or don’t when reviewing this movie? I find it odd that someone needs to “get it out” when it comes to TLB (and I’ve seen other non-believers do this too, so you’re not the only one).

    It’s like me confessing I’m single when watching a movie about a married couple. Um, okay. Or me saying I’m straight when I watch THE WEEKEND. Um, okay. Or me saying I’m an atheist when I watch DOUBT. Um, who gives a cr_p. Congrats on your open mindedness, and here’s a carton of 2% milk with an organic oatmeal cookie. Chew on it. Make your mouth and body happy.

    To me it’s irrelevant because your job is to review a film (which you did a great job) – discuss whether you liked it or not, what you felt worked or didn’t and maybe make suggestions that might’ve made the movie better.

    >> to what extent does belief in an Afterlife figure into how someone sees The Lovely Bones.

    Well, if one doesn’t believe in an afterlife then one may be offended and dismiss it. I have read several reviews that raped it (hypothetically) and largely because they were non-believers. It’s like someone put fire ants in their bed as a joke and they woke up with ant bites all over they majestic face and waif like body.

    You didn’t completely dismiss it. Congrats. If one does believe in an afterlife then that person can also be offended by it or just not really care.

    @ kristin – yes, the book and movie is very much nondenominational.

    My rating: 3.5/5 (Jackson’s flawed masterpiece; should have focused on the family more; Weisz was wasted as was Sarandon; ending was rushed and the metaphysical kiss was cringe worthy; would love to see deleted scenes or even a director’s cut in the future)