Sunday, 14 March 2010

Film review: The Lovely Bones

Director: Peter Jackson
Screenwriter: Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson [screenwriters], Alice Sebold [novel]
Main Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz, Saoirse Ronan, Stanley Tucci, Susan Sarandon.
Runtime: 121 minutes.
Certificate: 12A (UK).
Brief Summary: "The Lovely Bones" centers on a young girl who has been murdered and watches over her family - and her killer - from heaven. She must weigh her desire for vengeance against her desire for her family to heal.
Tagline: The story of a life and everything that came after...

Counting 'The Lovely Bones' by Alice Sebold as one of my favourite books, I eagerly awaited the film for the best part of a year. Normally, I am wary of movie adaptations of my favourite novels, but I had good faith in Peter Jackson. I haven't seen much of his films, with the exception of Lord of the Rings, but I'd heard only praise for his work, most notably the 1994 thriller 'Heavenly Creatures'.

Unfortunately, I came away from this film feeling disappointed and slightly robbed. It's not that it was a bad film, as such. Indeed, the visuals were nothing short of stunning, whilst the cast put in brilliantly heart-breaking performances, particulary rising star Saoirse Ronan, as the protagonist, Susie Salmon. And if the mark of a good villain is his ability to chill the viewer and to spur nightmares, then Tucci deserves a special nod too. No, it wasn't Jackson's directing ability that let the film down.

Part of the reason I found The Lovely Bones novel so moving, was the preoccupation with the Salmon family, and how they dealt with their grief, all the while overlooked by Susie. Sebold managed this with absolute tenderness, whilst also interweaving the plot with Susie's own experiences in the afterlife, and the ongoing hunt for her killer. Instead, the film seemed to become simply a manhunt for George Harvey, the killer, whilst throwing in a couple of corpses for good measure. I clearly have no experience with directing films, but it seems obvious to me that if you're going to direct a film about the rape and murder of a teenager, you have to be so careful with your approach. I spent the majority of the film feeling progressively more uncomfortable, and had to keep reminding myself that the film was merely a 12A. I'd read reports that Jackson had cut parts of the film so that he could achieve this certification. I struggle to find a reasoning for why he would want children of 12 and under (if accompanied by an adult) to endure such a distressing cinematic experience. I'm 9 years older than the minimum age restriction and I still didn't feel ready for it.

Important parts of the plot seemed to have been lost in translation between novel and film. Jackson has neglected to mention the dismembered bone that the title is centred around. Other integral features are either glossed over, or absent altogether. We know nothing of the mother's affair with the police officer involved with the case, so whilst she leaves to pursue a new life, the audience is left behind, slightly confused. We don't see sister Lyndsey's private battle with grief whilst struggling to let her new boyfriend in. Or, the utterly heart-wrenching moment when the family dog is reunited with Susie in her new, bittersweet world. Any of these moments would have enabled the family to become much more relatable to the audience, and therefore place them at the true heart of the film, instead of as a couple of supporting characters with no depth. And, whilst I have the upmost admiration for Susan Sarandon's acting abilities, the use of the grandmother as a 'humorous' interlude to the main story felt forced and out of place.

This viewing experience merely cemented my belief that films can never beat the original material, and as soon as I have spare time, I am picking up the book, and reminding myself of the story that I fell in love with.

My rating: 2/5

Friday, 12 March 2010



Creating a blog for myself has been on my list of things-to-do for a while, and now that I'm finally able to cross it off my list, I don't have a clue how to start it!
I've had a (sort of) blog before, when I was 15/16, but it was more of an online diary rather than anything useful. For this one, I intend to include more... 'intellectual' ramblings, most likely in the form of reviews...films, books, etc.

Firstly though, a little about myself:

I'm 21 years old. (Well, technically I'm still 20, but my birthday is in less than a week and I should probably start getting used to saying it). I'm in my third year at the University of Portsmouth, where I am studying Media and Creative Writing. Speaking of which, I am currently trying to find somewhere online where I can post some of my writing, will keep you posted!
I know it's a cliche, but I can honestly say that university has been the best three years of my life. I look back to the person I was before I arrived here, and it's like I'm remembering a completely different girl. My time here has definitely been life-changing, and with only three months left, I honestly can't imagine not being here. It's not something I'm looking forward to.
Having said that, I am excited to see what opportunities I come across when I leave, although I'm slightly unsure, at the moment, as to what job I intend to go into...

Firstly, I'm really interested in Advertising. Most people complain or leave the room to grab some food during an ad break, but I will happily sit and watch 3 minutes worth of someone trying to sell me something. Similarly, people criticize them, but I find PR stunts fascinating. I love trying to work out the thought process that was behind developing the final product. I love being able to see creativity.
However, I'm also interested in careers in Publishing and Editorial work. I'm a complete book worm. I can spend days doing nothing but reading a really good book and not get bored. In some ways I prefer books to films, I think you can get a lot more depth from books than films. Equally, as with most girls, I have piles and piles of magazines. I don't quite know what it is about them that I love, but I can never bring myself to throw them out, even when the fashion is out of date and the stories are no longer relevant. At my family home, I still have magazines from around 2001/2002, and I'll still pick one up and read through it. I've always been enthralled by the layouts, to the point that when I was 8 or 9 years old, I created my own 'magazine'. I use the term loosely, I wrote all over about 30 pages of A4 paper (much to my parents frustration) and stapled them together. But the whole process fascinates me, how to choose what gets included and what doesn't.

As you can see, I don't have any definite career path just yet. But I think it's better to keep my options open, especially in this economic climate!

So, this post was supposed to be a 'brief' introduction to myself and the blog...hmm..think I should leave it there for now.

If you've gotten this far, thanks for reading!