The Lovely Bones 2009 Movie Scene Saoirse Ronan as Susie Salmon in the in-between world standing in her gazebo

The Lovely Bones [2009]

When I say the name, Peter Jackson, what’s the first movie that comes to your mind? If I had to guess, I would say that the answer is The Lord of the Rings. While that might be his most popular and critically acclaimed movie, it’s far from his only one. Peter consistently tried to make uniquely good movies, constantly switching genres. His first movie was a splatter horror comedy Bad Taste and he followed it up with Braindead, nailing the formula for this subgenre. Then, he made a darkly romantic drama based on true events Heavenly Creatures, before venturing into Mordor. 

After another big movie, King Kong, he decides it’s time for a change of pace. And this is how we got the movie we’re going to be talking about today. The Lovely Bones is a dark supernatural thriller about a murdered girl who now lives in the strange in-between world. A place from which she can observe her family dealing with grief and the police trying to bring a vicious killer to justice. So, as you can notice, the topics are quite gloomy. And they get even worse when the story escalates. Add to this the formidable two-hour running time and I can understand why people have doubts about this movie.

You just need to find the right time and the right mood for it to work properly. The Lovely Bones is actually based on Alice Sebold’s 2002 novel of the same name. This is why the narration follows almost everything that happens in the movie. We see how one tragic event can change the lives of so many people. Sadly, something similar happened to poor Alice when she was younger. She painfully describes that experience in the novel, detailing her rape and the subsequent trauma. Jackson, however, decided to omit this entire part of the story, something Alice thought was a mistake.

Moreover, Jackson seems to be running away from any and all fucked up scenes, opting for a much softer approach. There are no uncomfortable scenes or graphic violence here despite all the stuff that’s going to happen. To counter or cover this up, The Lovely Bones offers creative visuals and even better set design. Granted, these dazzling visuals can sometimes overwhelm the viewer but our talented cast helped immensely with that. In the lead role, we have Saoirse Ronan who gave a heartfelt and overall stellar performance. Her role was the most difficult one.

I would also like to single out Rachel Weisz and Stanley Tucci who were just as great. Speaking of Wiesz, The Lovely Bones in some moments felt a bit too like The Fountain. I’m not saying that in a bad way, I’m just noticing certain similarities between the two movies. And I’ll mention The Cell, as a recommendation for those looking for the heavy stuff. The story here takes place in the early seventies adding another layer of style to the overall visual outlook. However, I was more interested in the dark story set against the backdrop of an idyllic little town and family.

While almost everyone is enjoying life and looking forward to the future, certain individuals are plotting. They’re plotting to do something so evil that it’s almost unthinkable. And yet they’re also living in that same city, right next to all those people. This conflict is at the heart of the movie. Moreover, it seems to be aimed squarely at teens, teaching them an important lesson about life. This is in stark contrast with the novel that was oriented towards adults. In the end, The Lovely Bones is a visually unique and thought-provoking supernatural thriller worth watching and I recommend you check it out.

Director: Peter Jackson

Writers: Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson

Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz, Stanley Tucci, Susan Sarandon, Jake Abel

Fun Stuff: Stanley Tucci was nominated for an Academy Award for his performance here which he based upon Dennis Rader, the BTK serial killer.


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