Thursday, April 08, 2010

The Lovely Bones: book and movie review

THIS HAS BEEN LONG OVERDUE. I watched the film adaptation of the Lovely Bones a few weeks ago, and I've been itching to write a review about it but unnecessary things like school came up so it took me this long to talk about the movie. I'm not really sure if it was released in Zamboanga but I'm pretty sure it's been months since the movie was shown. But either way, here goes.......

One of the pitfalls of watching book to film adaptations is the disappointment of a movie falling short of the expectations, simply because the book was amazing. This usually happens when you read the book first, then watch the movie, which I did with "The Lovely Bones". What's weird is that I actually liked "Dear John" even if my friends said it was inadequate when compared to the book. I liked it because I had no basis for comparison. You get my point, right?

Anyway, the book was dubbed as a "phenomenal New York Times Bestseller", so thank my lucky stars, it had a palpable hype that wasn't easy to ignore.

The book, in itself, was an incredible masterpiece. In a nutshell, it was all about the how life went on after the murder of Susie Salmon, the protagonist and whose point of view that book was laid out on. The book wove together events years apart, focusing on the people that Susie (from heaven) watched.

The way Alice Sebold unveiled the many details in the lives of characters (from Abigail Salmon, Susie's mom to Ray Singh, Susie's almost-boyfriend), and in the end managed to encapsulate the beauty of life and living in the closing sequences of the book, made me want to hug her. Yes, the book was THAT good.

The "Bones" in "The Lovely Bones" was a symbol for the intricate details in the lives of people, that when pieced together, suddenly brings a feeling of finality, contentment and peace. In other words, everything makes sense. Alice Sebold made it make sense.

My second paragraph and me practically jumping for joy after reading the book, probably foreshadowed less than favorable reactions to the movie. And just because it brought in Rachel Weiss doesn't mean that the movie was good. Whereas the book gave me sweet lemonade, the movie left me with a bitter taste in the mouth.

Yeah, I get Peter Jackson's attempt at focusing more on Susie and her journey towards, it take that back, I DON'T GET IT. You see, essentially the book was all about how life goes and (and takes a few painful pitfalls) after the death of a loved one. But still, life goes on. The movie on the other hand, did step on that premise but it didn't really fulfill that. That's my only problem with the interpretation.

Obviously the book narrated decades worth of important events, and the movie people had no choice but to trim off the fat. But I felt that what was left was a carcass devoid of viable meat. Yes, I am this disappointed. The scenes did not connect at all, simply because it lacked the "heart" to make every thing cohesive. It had logic, but none of the emotion to make the scenes and the characters endearing.

I was disappointed at how most of the characters seemed static. They never attempted to be endearing and all they did was to blurt out their lines. I did believe Kevin Bacon as Jack Salmon, but I went only as far as the distance he covered in the cornfield, before he was beaten to a pulp. And please, it was pathetic to see Lindsey Salmon, Susie's younger sister, as a teenage sleuth AND pregnant years later without even bothering to change the character. *cringe*

From the beginning to the end, the producers had the potential to make every scene good and probably even Oscar-worthy, but no, nothing like that happened. The movie's biggest fault is its failure to tie together the characters' individuality and quirks with the scenes, and in doing so, the scenes never took off in terms of being cohesive and remarkable.

The movie should have showed us how Susie managed to cope and eventually accept her death even if it took her more than a decade. But after watching it, dear Susie has the right to go all angry spirit on Peter Jackson. I could go on and on about how the movie was lackluster, but I strongly urge you to read the book and compare it with the movie. Better yet, just read the book. Again, IT'S AMAZING.

And at the end of the day, all the lovely, poignant and moving scenes that should have taken off were left in the sinkhole, together with Susie Salmon's rotting, disemboweled corpse.

I would rate the movie: D
A - Amazing! I wan't to watch it again and again
B - Pretty Good/Great
C - Good attempt but nah
D - I'd rather have syphilis

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