Genre Pictures VI

film 2 of 4

The Lovely Bones

Film Review by Dean Duncan Jun 2, 2015

What a shimmering, exquisite young woman, this Saoirse Ronan! Her luminous introduction, her very luminosity make the murder that follows so much more appalling. This whole extended sequence is quite perfectly rendered, cinematically speaking. But it made me wonder. This is an old squeamishness, which is quite natural, quite honestly come by. It’s different from a lot of the sniffy and censorious impulse that people—free speech advocates for instance—get upset about. Naturalism is one thing. It isn’t perverted, or a distorted multiplication of dire anomaly. It considers and communicates real patterns of privation. It provides an awareness, through representation both frank and judicious, that inequity and poverty, sin and sorrow abound. We are informed, and empowered. But contriving means through which children, make-believe or not, are jeopardized and harmed, falls is quite another thing. Thou shalt not!

From the disturbing perfections of this prologue Jackson & Co. proceed to the basic and consecutive folly of the afterlife/waiting bits. They are technically very accomplished, very creditably executed. But they just don’t work. What do I know about it, you might ask? That’s pretty fair, but these garbled kitschy assemblages motivate to make the same demand of them. All over the place!

There are some real insights, there is some real feeling about mourning in the scenes featuring the family that’s been left behind. The slow progress toward the culprit’s identification and apprehension are quite effectively handled, and distributed. Tucci! His part, his performance are both really admirable, in a complicated, see-above way. Admirable. Necessary?

Having said all that, and speaking of cinematic panache, the sequence with the sister sneaking around in his house is world-beatingly great, as in Hitchcock/Polanski great. For that matter, The Lovely Bones makes me think of, is kind of comparable to Mr. Fincher’s similarly impressive, similarly abbatoir-ish Zodiac. The world is full of virtuosic young technician/aficionados. And they’ve got, or they’re trying to find, important things to say. But be careful, boys!

As for the Tucci character, that is, in the end, some comeuppance!