Saturday, 20 February 2010

The Lovely Bones - Review

I often wonder every time I watch Lord of the Rings and then any of Peter Jackson's other films; is he a brilliant director or a man who struck lucky once - well thrice pending on how you view his holy trilogy. That is not to say his near decade effort in bringing JRR Tolkien's masterpiece to the big screen and the success which came with it was based on luck - it wasn't - but you could tell his heart and soul was evident within the film. However such films as Heavenly Creatures, The Frighteners and his remake of King Kong have often crossed over into the realms of unpleasant confusion and disorientating chaos. Unfortunately for Mr Jackson, The Lovely Bones is no different.

Based on the best selling novel by Alice Sebold, The Lovely Bones is the story of a 14-year-old girl from suburban Pennsylvania who is murdered by her neighbor. She tells the story from heaven, showing the lives of the people around her and how they have changed all while attempting to get someone to find her lost body.

Firstly what I did like about the film was how gloriously lush it was, like an artist placing fresh, vibrant, colours on to a canvas for the first time. This was particularly evident during the 'afterlife scenes' - despite looking like they were lifted straight from that
atrocious Robin Williams film, What Dreams May Come. the visuals were also lifted in parts with the superbly crafted score written by the ever talented songwriter, Brian Eno.

However there were a number of surprisingly disappointing aspects to the film, firstly being the incoherent plot, which has left me - a good few hours afterwards - still comprehending what actually happened, and not my friends in a reflective David Lynch sort of way. Having not read the book I am not sure if this is attributed to the source material but for a man who adapted one of the most unfilmable fantasy novels, you would expect better.

You almost get the impression the film has been cut massively in parts and that a longer director's edition may surface at a later date, but from what I have already witnessed, I'm not sure if I would even bother. Jackson was unable to make me feel anything for the characters, similar to how I felt when I watched The Road last month, yes what happened to this girl was horrific but I never once felt choked up for her or her family, mainly because Jackson didn't actually let the audience see what happened. The film was delayed by nearly a year because Paramount were hoping it would bring the studio mountains of success during the award season, but you would think maybe that would have gave Jackson extra time to iron out the painfully unpolished edges.

The performances were competent at best, however what I failed to understand was why the actors and actresses were not allowed to speak for themselves, Saoirse Ronan's soulless, uninspiring narration got tiresome within the opening 10 minutes. This was quite disheartening considering the talent on offer.

Final Thoughts
I didn't want to hate it, but Peter Jackson didn't make it easy for me. Essentially The Lovely Bones was a test of patience I'm afraid I failed, waiting nearly two hours for something to actually happen and never once rewarding me for it. It failed to show any real human drama or intensity seen in superior films with similar themes. Despite the visuals being mostly breathtaking - save for some dodgy CGI moments - the film lacked any real connection between the characters on screen and the audience watching them. Sorry Peter, but you can do better.


See this if you like...
What Dreams May Come, but I didn't like that either...

The Lovely Bones is in cinemas everywhere now.

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