Just came out of a screening of Peter Jackson’s of The Lovely Bones (opening Dec. 11) and I’m about as confused as the movie is. So, my movie partner, Eric Edwards, and I had the following discussion to help process our thoughts. [Possible mild spoilers.]
PCN: Oh, man, what happened? The trailer was intense but the movie felt like one long yoga/meditation video.
EE: I think my biggest struggle was I kept thinking I should like it more than I do.
PCN: Why do you feel you have to like it?
EE: Because the message they’re trying to put out is very deep and Zen. It was all about the big picture and trusting that the universe will take care of things in its own time. But it took soooo long for payback to happen.
PCN: And when it did, I felt no real closure, which begs the question: Are we impatient, bloodthirsty people? In real life, sometimes comeuppance doesn’t happen at all and you have to find a way to move past the grief.
EE: But this is a movie and I think most moviegoers want to see some kind of reckoning for a bad deed.
PCN: There was reckoning, just not in a way we expected. I feel the same ambivalence toward the movie as I did toward Alice Sebold’s book. It’s internal and meditative and more about a process than a story. I get it—Susie’s family is grieving; it’s not going to be action-packed. So Peter Jackson fills up the in-between with eye candy to amuse us. Look, there’s a waterfall! And Susie frolicking among flowers! A random giant beach ball! And that music sounded like something from a sleep machine. I thought maybe Enya would show up to sing.
EE: That score was pretentious. I did enjoy the book, though. I think this was just bad handling of source material.
PCN: Do you think this has a chance at any awards? The cinematography is gorgeous–
EE: It’s beautiful.
PCN:–but I don’t think the movie deserves anything else. Even Stanley Tucci’s performance is off. He’s really creepy but I was distracted by the blond rug, blue contacts, prosthetic teeth and slightly slurred speech. It’s a little too much. Wouldn’t it be interesting to have a perfectly normal-looking guy turn out to be the creepiest one of all?
EE: I don’t think Jackson allowed Tucci to let the full creepiness out.
PCN: What?! He’s super creepy! During the scene where Mr. Harvey lures Susie down into the hatch, you were cringing like a girl, you were so scared.
EE: I wasn’t cringing, I was merely showing disapproval. Tucci kept shaking and acting nervous. Jackson should’ve just let Tucci stare at Susie and let the suspense build before making his move. Would’ve been a lot more explosive.
PCN: Oh, it was plenty explosive enough for me. I was sick inside, knowing what would happen to her. I was grateful most of it happened off camera.
EE: But you were projecting your feelings due to prior knowledge. Would it be as creepy for viewers who haven’t read the book?
PCN: A grown man preparing to murder a 14-year-old girl? Yeah, I’d say that’s creepy for anyone. What’d you think of Saoirse Ronan’s performance?
EE: The biggest problem for me was her narration, which made the movie so melodramatic, especially when accompanied by Brian Eno’s overwrought score.
PCN: I had no problem with her! I actually liked her as Susie much more than I liked her as that little brat in Atonement. Here, she’s vibrant and shows more range. She also handled the American accent quite well.
EE: I’m not talking about her acting, strictly the narration. Otherwise, she was fine. I liked Rose McIver, who plays Susie’s sister. She made an impression on me.
PCN: Same here. She had spunk. She’s a New Zealander who also nailed the American accent.
EE: What’d you think of Mark Wahlberg and Rachel Weisz?
PCN: They’re okay but their best work is elsewhere. Susan Sarandon looks like she had fun as the boozy, chain-smoking grandma, but the role isn’t significant enough to register come awards time.
Nerd verdicts—PCN: Weak Bones. EE: Bones is lifeless.