Somehow I’d got it into my head that the film The Lovely Bones was some kind of schmaltzy chick flick, maybe because it has the word ‘lovely’ in the title, I don’t know. Actually the main character gets raped and killed by a predatory paedophile whilst imprisoned in a hellish underground dungeon; you don’t see that kind of stuff so much on the Hallmark Channel.
On the whole it’s a good film, although it’s not a great film. It’s harrowing in parts (especially if you’re a parent) although there is very little violence or abuse shown on screen. I always think it’s clever if a film maker can unnerve the viewer simply by suggestion rather than showing the nasty stuff in graphic detail. The performance of Saoirse Ronan who plays Susie Salmon is great; she plays everything down beautifully and does that thing where she seems to be doing very little but actually she’s doing some really impressive acting type stuff.
That’s the good bit. The not so good bit is as follows. The direction is flashy; the camera never stops moving so that you start to get dizzy. We’ll have dramatic panning shots and panoramic sweeps as though we are watching the final climactic battle between Gandalf and Sauron instead of two people sitting at a table eating beans on toast. The acting is mostly either wooden (Mark Wahlberg would be great if he ever had to play the part of a work bench) or over the top (Susan Sarandon looks like she looked up how to play an drunken old bitch on Wikipedia). Stanley Tucci as the creepy George Harvey is actually pretty good but Peter Jackson gives him the usual cliché paedophile outfit of aviator specs and comb-over.
In short, I’d say there’s things about this film that are very good. Unfortunately one of the things that is not so good is the director and the director is quite an important factor in a movie (I think I read that somewhere). I can’t understand why people think Peter Jackson is so brilliant. Yes, Lord of the Rings was an amazing achievement but Jackson directs everything the same way. If he did a biopic of a packet of bacon he’d have 32 battle scenes and aerial shots from the arse of a passing seagull. I saw King Kong and actually fell asleep. The only other film I ever fell asleep in was Avatar! Someone should have told Jackson that this is an intimate human story; you don’t need to chuck the kitchen sink at it.
Anyway, The Lovely Bones turned out to be much better than the chick flick I’d somehow come to expect. But it wasn’t good enough to convince me that Peter Jackson should ever be let loose with a budget of more than £2.50. This was a good film but in someone else’s hands it could have been superb.