Not only did director Peter Jackson won an armful of Oscars (3)for his Lord of the Rings movies, he also directed the recent remake of King Kong. Lovely Bones features Oscar winning actresses, Rachel Weisz, and Susan Sarandon. Lead actress, Saoirse Ronan won a nomination for her supporting role in Atonement.
When a creepy neighbor kills a 14 year old girl, she gets caught in the in between world between heaven and earth. One wonders if the killer will be brought to justice, or will he continue his behavior unabated, and who might be next, and what will finally release her from her bonds to earth.
As you watch, Lovely Bones explore themes of spirituality, forgiveness and justice. If you're wondering, it does not go into the gore and violence of her death, and like all such stories, if you care to look beyond the surface, and go deeper it has a cautionary tale to tell. It might be instructive for a teenage girl, who, maybe is unsuspecting, to watch a movie like this, and for her parent to make a point of watching it. It's good to know that while such things do happen, they are not common occurences.
In this movie, Peter Jackson creates a symbolic world of subconscious imagination and imagery, like snippets from a dream, so our girl lives in the in between, partly the creation of her own imagination, and partly the creation of her grieving father, with whom she has a close connection. So, while there is no direct communication by word, there is recurring symbolic communication, and you can notice many things.
You can notice, corn on the table, a cornfield, just planted and mature and inviting, a love letter that flutters through the breeze, and lands in different hands, a safe where remains can be kept, a trophy taken from a girl, and will the killer accidentally get caught with it. You can notice lighthouses, the same tree, roses blooming and decadent, figurines, a safe, a sink hole, a street map that looks like a Film Four logo. Hmm. Lighthouse Entertainment. Hmm.
There are even parallels between the girl's father and killer. Both like to make small intricate models, and this becomes interesting when the ships appear. Ships in a bottle, cool. Dolls houses creepy.
I particularly liked the performance of Mark Wahlberg, who emotes without overstating. Stanley Tucci, goes against his usual type, and gives a perfectly creepy performance as the killer gaining an Oscar nomination. I found Rachel Weisz performance odd but very intriguing, somewhat under emotive or under acted. I found the alternative world interesting, reminiscent of What Dreams May Come, which was more visually compelling, although a very heavy movie.
One thing that did not make sense was the safe. This hugely heavy box, he is able to put in an underground structure, put the bones in, yet is unable to move the safe by himself, so how does he get it to his house, how does he get it out of his basement and into his car, yet he needs help moving it a few yards to a sink hole.
I liked this movie a lot, although it was a bit long, and there was too much narrating by the girl. Part of the fun of watching a movie is your own imaginary experience, and a lighter touch on the narration would have worked much better. I think most people will enjoy it even though it's a little unusual, and I hope this was helpful.