The Lovely Bones - sunday 2009-12-27 0125 last modified 2009-12-27 0139
Categories: Film
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Many a professional movie reviewer is picking on Peter Jackson's The Lovely Bones for, essentially, not mirroring the book. These folks assume the intersection of their readers and readers of the book coincide enough to frame their reviews in such a manner. I haven't read it; I don't much care how they line up. It's lazy to note the movie and book don't tell exactly the same tale; we have decades of proof to corroborate that claim. Say something about the experience of the film.

Or I will. The movie falls just shy of greatness. I rejoice at a story that follows a conceit to explain the nature of an ethereal concept without trying to be logically descriptive, and I wish more films would take advantage of their visual freedoms and paint with near-abandon while staying in service of their narrative (perhaps why The Fountain, Speed Racer, and 2001 are stand outs for me - they let an artist with clear direction just go). I have a particular take on the ineffable, and I love the way this near-heaven behaves. Not because heaven looks like that, but because it doesn't look like that, and maybe it isn't even a matter of seeing - neither does this film try to convince you heaven looks like that. It's to be sensed, not seen: of vastness and filled expanses, rapidly changing, of a giant rubber ball swirled by the oceans and colliding gently with mountain ranges. Of a world made out of things we know, but not the world we know.

There are moments where it drags, times to groan at a tired film cliche, supreme moments of suspense where the audience palpably resists the inexorable forward pull of the story, itself wrapped a bit too nicely, if that can be said about the tale of a murdered adolescent. Saoirse Ronan and Stanley Tucci, as noted by many, are wonderful to watch. I don't need to see the film in its entirety again, which is part of why it misses out on greatness. But I would put Susie's heaven on my window and stare out at it whenever I passed it by.

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