Peter Jackson's infatuation with fancy visual effects mortally wounds "The Lovely Bones." Alice Sebold's cheerily melancholy bestseller, centered upon a 14-year-old girl who narrates the story from heaven after having been brutally murdered, provides almost ready-made bigscreen material. But Jackson undermines solid work from a good cast with show-offy celestial evocations that severely disrupt the emotional connections with the characters. The book's rep, the names of Jackson and exec producer Steven Spielberg, and a mighty year-end push by Paramount/DreamWorks will likely put this over with the public to a substantial extent, but it still rates as a significant artistic disappointment.
Peter Jackson’s eagerly awaited film version of Alice Sebold’s bestselling novel is sometimes exquisitely realised, sometimes frustratingly uneven. Sebold’s time-spanning story – taking place half on earth, half in heaven, narrated in the first person by a deal girl – was never an easy prospect for adaptation, and Jackson can’t quite capture a fluid structural rhythm for the piece, even while individual sequences and creative decisions are spot-on.
Believe me, I'd run my reaction if I'd seen the film (I don't until later this week). I've been reading the book, so on the one hand, I appreciate how much rich material there is to work with, as a high-schooler (played by Saoirse Ronan) moves fluidly in time through the past and present, heaven and earth, as she observes the aftermath of her murder. On the other hand, that also increases the degree of difficulty. A lot.