I was curious to see what Peter Jackson would do with The Lovely Bones. While I’m ambivalent about The Lord of Rings, I always rather liked Jackson’s 1994 film Heavenly Creatures and thought that if anyone had a chance to take Alice Sebold’s finely crafted novel and turn it into a film that is as effective on its own terms, Jackson might be that someone.
I have read both of Sebold’s novels and the memoir of her own rape as a first year college student, and hers is a dark vision. The Lovely Bones details the rape and murder of a 14-year-old who then watches her family struggle and her murderer elude detection before she moves on to heaven.
Film is not a medium that handles the metaphysical very well, especially when the tone is dramatic. How can a filmmaker show something as literal that is hard to even put into words? The movie is a disappointment. The opening half hour and ending half hour work better than the (seemingly) endless middle hour.
The other thing that bothers me about this film is the PG-13 rating. There were many children in the audience at my screening, several audibly upset. This is most definitely not a film for children. There are better ways to convince them not to crawl into holes in the ground with creepy neighbors.