Based on the bestselling novel by Alice Sebold, The Lovely Bones is a heart-wrenching drama that will elicit emotion in even the most hardened cinemagoers. The story of a murdered teenage girl and the aftermath of the tragedy overrides the harrowing nature of this event, instead choosing to focus upon the relationship between family members.
The film combines drama and fantasy to produce a film that leaps between the identifiable and the surreal. It is in these fantastic “afterlife” sequences that The Lovely Bones most closely resembles director Jackson’s previous work. It is the real life action however that packs the most punch on an emotional level.
Tucci excels as the creepy neighbour turned murderer. He gives an unnerving performance a world away from roles he has formerly been associated with. Weisz and Wahlberg are convincing as Susie’s distraught parents, each struggling to cope with her death in their own way. Newcomer Saoirse Ronan is absorbing as the tragic teen, and has a promising career ahead if her performance here is anything to go by.
Set in the 1970s, art direction, cinematography, score and costuming is spot on in recreating the period. Rather than focus on the terrible crime, the film shifts its attention to the family and the way each member copes with the loss of a loved one. In doing so, The Lovely Bones is an uplifting experience despite the sombre subject matter.