On Thursday evening I went to see an advance screening of Peter Jackson's adaptation of Alice Sebold's 2002 best seller, The Lovely Bones, and I expected to be dazzled and blown away by what I saw on screen, instead I left the cinema feeling a little hollow.
The Lovely Bones is in no way a bad film, but I felt it was just an OK cinematic experience and nothing groundbreaking.
I've not read the book and all I had to go on was a haunting and fantastical trailer which appealed to my cinema going sensibilities, plus the fact that it was directed by Peter Jackson.
The film follows the life, death and aftermath of Susie Salmon, a fourteen year old girl living in 70's suburban America. The movie is a mix of genres - teen melodrama with her attraction to a boy at school, serial-killer mystery revolving around her murder, the domestic tragedy of her grieving family and bit of a ghost story thrown in for good measure.
In fact it's Susie herself who narrates the tale from the 'inbetween', existing between Heaven and Earth that is.
Saoirse Ronan is great as the lead actress and does a wonderful job with all the green-screen work, when I assume all she had to act to was her own imagination. Her piercing eyes convey so much emotion on their own. I also thought Rose McIver was great as her plucky sister, Lindsey.
Stanley Tucci is totally creepy and unsettling as her murderer and Susan Sarandon is hilarious as the children's alcoholic, chain-smoking Grandmother and brings much needed lightness to the proceedings.
I like how the other children in the movie seem to actually age during the movie, as it helps to convey the passage of time and I also enjoyed the authenticity of the 70's setting.
I was a bit disappointed by the visuals from the 'inbetween', as although they were interesting (especially the ships in the bottles crashing on the waves), they were less than spectacular and simply seemed like lots of standard CGI fare. They just weren't stunning enough and I don't know if that was a budget problem or a conceptual one.
For all it's faults The Lovely Bones is a suspenseful, engaging story with great performances by the cast, but I feel it falls short of delivering that overall 'wow factor'. I understand the novel is a bit more graphically violent and traumatic than the film, but I'm glad it didn't go down that route. I give it three *** stars and am interested to see what I think when I watch it again on DVD.
There are only a few short weeks before the end of the year, so I hope I can also fit in the likes of Avatar, Sherlock Holmes, Invictus and Nine. Only time will tell...