Film Review: “The Lovely Bones” (2009) ★★★★

We know nothing about what happens after our soul departs from the body. Whether we go beyond or simply die. This is the biggest mystery out there for which we have no way of getting an answer. But when we watch films like “The Lovely Bones”, we want to believe that a place like heaven exists. A place where we can sit and reflect on what happened and what to do next. True or not, it’s fascinating. More importantly, heartbreaking as well, because the story offered is not simple nor will it make you feel good about it since death is not a cause for celebration even though we were taught that it is.

Set in 1973, it follows a 14-year-old Susie Salmon (Saoirse Ronan) who dreams of becoming a photographer. She wants to grow and live happily ever after. She loves her mother, Abigail (Rachel Weisz) and adores her dad, Jack Salmon (Mark Wahlberg). She also has a crush on Ray (Reece Ritchie), the boy from high school; he even asks her out. It seems everything is going well for Susie until the moment when she goes home through the same path, the cornfield, where she meets her neighbor, George Harvey (Stanley Tucci). He invites her to visit his newly built underground “kid’s hideout”. What she did not know is that place will be the last one she will ever see alive…

When the film first starts, Susie introduced herself to us as she begins telling her story. What appears to be just a family drama turns into a supernatural thriller shortly after. The girl makes us aware of her faith  – she did not live long enough to enjoy her life. In fact, there is no secret behind who kills her, but rather, what happens to her family after she is gone. When Susie finally gets a chance to talk to Ray, she is too excited about their first date and, perhaps, their upcoming first kiss. Soon, sadly, when she meets George Harvey, her big plans get interrupted. When she accepts Harvey’s invitation to see his underground den, she quickly begins feeling unsettled.

As she tries to escape Harvey’s den, the next scene makes us believe that she managed to save herself but only until the moment when she finds herself in Harvey’s bathtub with her bracelet hanging on the sink faucet, Susie realizes that she never escaped Harvey’s den. And now that she is “In-Between” of her afterlife, she continues telling her story while her family, especially her father, tries to do their best to find Susie with the help of the police. However, the family must not only learn to live without Suzie but also begin the healing process, find the loving bones, and get closer than they were before. What’s meant to be a tragedy will turn into a breathtakingly touching story of family that must grow stronger no matter what.

Directed by Peter Jackson and adapted from Alice Sebold’s novel, “The Lovely Bones” is a chilling supernatural thriller drama that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Even though you may know where the story leads you, the visually stunning effects, the images of the afterlife, or how Susie navigates through her existence is beautiful. Certain scenes are tremendously emotional. Performances delivered by Saoirse Ronan and Stanley Tucci are not only impressive but must unmissable. From start to end, the story structure is flawless, leaving enough room for suspense, when there should be none. As for the novel, it is very challenging to adapt a story like this, however, Peter Jackson delivers it perfectly for us to watch this brilliantly adapted film that, unfortunately, is not for everyone.

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