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A 14 year old girl takes her usual shortcut home from school through a cornfield. A man/neighbor who lives alone, persuades her to have a look at an underground den he has recently dug in the field. Once inside, he rapes and kills her,dismembers her body, puts her parts in a safe & dumps it in a sinkhole. "Susie's" spirit then goes to heaven. Hell of a start, huh?!
Her family can't accept she's dead, until her hat and blood are found. The police talk to the man, finding him odd but seeing no reason to suspect him. Susie's father Jack, on extended leave from work, begins to suspect "Mr.Harvey", a notion his surviving daughter Lindsey has also.
Trying to help her father prove his suspicions, Lindsey sneaks into Harvey's house, finds a diagram of the underground den, but is forced to leave when Harvey returns unexpectedly. The police, however, satisfied with Harvey's explanation, do not arrest him, which allows him to flee Norristown. Later, evidence is discovered linking Harvey to Susie's murder, as well as to those of several other young girls. Susie meets his other victims in heaven and she is persuaded to cross over but she wishes to bring closure to her life and family.
Abigail (wife) leaves Jack, taking a job at a winery in California. Her mother, Grandma Lynn, moves into the Salmons' home to care for Buckley and Lindsey. Lindsey and her boyfriend, Samuel Heckler, become engaged, find an old house in the woods owned by a classmate's father, and decide to fix it up and live there. Sometime after the celebration, while arguing with Buckley, Jack suffers a heart attack. The emergency prompts Abigail to return from California, but the reunion is tempered by her son, Buckley's, lingering bitterness for her abandoning the family.
Meanwhile, Harvey returns to Norristown after being on the run, which has become more built on. He goes to his old neighborhood and notices the school is being expanded into the cornfield where he murdered Susie. He drives by the sinkhole where Susie's body rests and where Ruth Connors and Ray Singh are standing. Ruth, Susie's former classmate who had felt Susie's spirit rush past her after her murder, senses the women Harvey has killed and is physically overcome.
Susie from heaven, is also overwhelmed with emotion and feels how she and Ruth transcend their present existence, and the two girls exchange positions: Susie, her spirit now in Ruth's body, connects with Ray, who had a crush on Susie in school, and had made plans to go out with her a few days before the murder. Ray senses Susie's presence, and takes advantage of the fact that Susie is briefly back with him. In Hal Heckler's (the older brother of Lindsey's boyfriend Samuel) bike shop they find a room to make love, as Susie has longed to do after witnessing her sister and Samuel. Afterwards, Susie must return to heaven.
Susie moves on into another, larger part of heaven, occasionally watching earthbound events. Her sister gives birth to a daughter, Abigail Suzanne. When stalking another young girl in New Hampshire, Harvey is hit by a huge icicle and falls down a snow-covered slope, eventually freezing to death to the movie crowd and my 'cheering'. Susie closes the story by wishing her family "a long and happy life."
Don't miss this movie! It's a definite tear jerker/suspence but good for all except gore hounds and thriller nuts. Those stay away (-: Buy on ebay for the going rate w/ S&H. It's a great movie and a great deal!
We see here in this film a culmination of many pathways of different experiences coming together for a truly superb film. This journey may only be compared to a cross between "Stir of Echoes" & "What Dreams May Come". Although the first person narrative may have been somewhat overdone at times, it was there to tell a story through the eyes & mind of a child who still had an innocence. It might be hard after years of living in this cruel world to all of a sudden start writing a screenplay with such innocence. We all to often want to start saying that it is unimaginable or way to sappy for anyone to have that sort of innocence at 14 years old. I find it even hard to believe knowing realistically how adolescents now actually think. Maybe Susie Salmon (Saoirse Ronan) lives a really sheltered life with no internet or much television back in 1973. Child molesters and serial killers weren't actually in the mainstream news back then.
Irish born Saoirse Ronan makes the film work for everyone involved. Without her, the film would never have made such an impact. I wouldn't dare say that her acting skills were any more or less than any other performer, but being gifted at such a young age surely will make it much easier for her to land herself in other powerful and meaningful rolls in the future. Unfortunately she didn't land on the list for an Oscar.
All the main players in this film delivered outstanding & believable performances. Taking special notice to Mark Wahlberg who plays the estranged father Jack Salmon. His acting skills have improved immensely since some of his other important films. Rachel Weisz was extremely convincing as a concerned & loving mother. Grandma Lynn (Susan Sarandon) was a bit distracting at times, but delivers a brake in tension with comedy, lending itself to a good release when things are sad. George Harvey (Stanley Tucci) was as creepy as they come. No one can say that Tucci can't act. He's probably the most versatile actors I've seen.
What many have said about the film is that the computer graphics displaced the overall 1973 feel of the story-line. Most could argue that, to be a really memorable film, it has to be down to earth, and leave out all the complicated elements. Director Jackson may have alienated many people with the technology because that probably saw the polished glimmer of fantasy middle-life (Limbo) and began losing interest in the power of the story. The story is truly unforgettable, but might miss a mark or 2 with core elements by electroplating everything over with too much far-out visuals.
Critics of film can be quite cruel and unforgiving when it comes to telling why certain things might have been responsible for ruining a film for them. I didn't really imagine what the film would have been like without the bells & whistles, since I connected the visual allusions to explanation (by Susie's narrative) to what I was viewing on the screen. I still felt as any protective father would; grieving, joyful, tense, thrilled, angry, heartbroken, vigilant, and blameful.
The scene of Linsey (Rose McIver) breaking in Harvey's home was extremely suspensful. Conflict resolution stages dealing with the discovery & the ending didn't quite work out for me, however, I can see why the surprise about what Susie's unfinished business really meant more to her than helping expose her killer.
If you really make the effort to delve into this film, you will come out with a few tears rolling down you face.
From Director Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings) comes this suspense drama about a young girl (Saoirse Ronan) who is murdered by a neighbor (Stanley Tucci) and after arriving in Heaven she is able to watch over the lives of both her parents (Mark Wahlberg and Rachel Weisz).
The plot and story in this adaptation of the book by Alice Sebold are both great. The actors are directed in a way that you are pulled into the story and taken on a journey that you will not forget.
Additional Cast Includes:Susan Sarandon, Amanda Michalka, Michael Imperioli and Rose McIver
Get this movie, you will be very glad you did.
I JUST WATCHED THE LOVLEY BONES ON 10-18-10 ON HBO.IM BLOWN AWAY.THIS MOVIE HAD ME CRYING,AND IF YOU DONT CRY YOU MAY NOT HAVE MUCH OF A SOUL.THE BEST PART OF THE MOVIE,IS HER IN THE AFTERLIFE,AN HOW SHE GETS TO STILL HAVE CONTACT THROUGH VISIONS OF HER FAMILY,SHE DECIDES NOT TO MOVE ONTO HEAVEN UNTILL SHES READY.I WILL BUY THIS A.S.A.P.PETER JACKSON,HAS MADE A MASTERPIECE.THE LAST TIME A MOVIE AFFECTED ME THIS MUCH WAS 6 YEARS AGO,ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND. ALSO A MASTERPIECE.THIS IS ON MY TOP 5 MOVIES OF ALL TIME.THANKS PETER JACKSON,FOR MAKING A PIECE OF HEAVEN COME INTO MY LIFE,WE WILL ALL DIE ONE DAY NO MATTER WHAT,MAKING IT TO HEAVEN IS ALL WE SHOULD BE THINKING ABOUT.ETERNAL LIFE, AND MABEY A PLANET OR STAR TO LIVE ON WAITS FOR US,AN OUR LOVED ONES TO REUNITE AND BE HAPPY FOR ETERNAL LIFE.5 STARS OUT OF 5.KIDS MUST WATCH THIS MOVIE AS WELL.IT WILL SHOW THEM NOT TO TALK TO STRANGERS NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS.THANK YOU FOR THE REVIEW ROB.
There were moments in the movie that were as touching as the book, but there was so much missing from the movie. And I don't mean I didn't like it because it was not true to the book. On the contrary I have loved many movies that did not stick to the book. But somehow this one missed the real point of the book, and the beauty that it had. The book focused more on the loss of her life. The little things that she would never get to do. And the way that her family was being torn apart without her.
I feel like they spent more time on the CGI than they did on the real feelings that made the book so heartbreaking. Also, I feel that since they focused so much on catching the murderer (which was not at all like the book) that they should have just let them catch him! If you're gonna go off the story-line, why not give us some closure? It feels like we chase after this bad guy the whole movie, get THIS close, and he just gets away. Definitely a let down. Despite loving the book, I would have been happy with them catching the murderer. That would have been a welcome change.
And I have to admit, I don't like that they were very ambiguous in some areas. In the book she is raped, in the movie it's like they don't want to go there. Also, there are other areas where they stay away from anything controversial. I was worried about seeing the rape scene, and I think that's why I waited so long to see it. I am glad I didn't have to watch a horrible gruesome rape scene, but I was a little confused as to why they never really let you see what happened. It's sort of up in the air. That's what made the book so disturbingly real and tragic. I don't like it when a director shies away from things that are hard or painful or disturbing. That's what the book was. . . Disturbing, painful, but in the end, amazingly beautiful.
All in all, I expected to feel the way I did after reading the book, which was touched and sad and happy all at the same time. The movie left me feeling unfulfilled. It wasn't horrible, but it was in no way as good as the book. Still, I can't say it's not worth watching. But for those that have read the book, don't go in expecting as much as I did! Good to RENT not to BUY, in my opinion.