Peter Jackson’s stylish adaptation of The Lovely Bones had its gala premiere last night, as a Royal Film Performance the Odeon Leicester Square, London. The first reputable reviews come from UK critics:
Sensitively cast – Mark Wahlberg and Rachel Weisz as Susie‚Äôs parents, Susan Sarandon as vulgar Grandma, a bewigged, bespectacled Stanley Tucci as Harvey and Atonement‚Äôs Saoirse Ronan as poor, hurting Susie ‚Äì Lovely Bones is a touching, at times distressing film. It deals with loss, grief, rage, familial breakdown and love, most of all love. But it‚Äôs also energetic and entertaining, the camera already moving whenever Jackson cuts into a scene and the horror/thriller elements given just enough fizz to recall the director‚Äôs early genre forays (minus the splatter) but not so comic book as to undercut the drama.
Likewise the emotion, Lovely Bones teetering along the thin, thin line that separates genuinely affecting from schmaltzy. How can it not, with colours popping from heavenly vistas (cornfields, lakes, mountains and more, the picture postcard views forever morphing to reflect Susie‚Äôs emotional state) and Wahlberg‚Äôs wide, earnest eyes rimmed with tears. Some will label it What Dreams May Come 2, and even those plugged in might experience a short circuit splutter come the 12-hankie denouement. But many more – the book‚Äôs fans, certainly – will exit exalted.
Jackson captures the grim essence of the novel even while compressing much of its character development and plot detail. And if the rhythm is problematic, his film-making bravado is constantly in evidence most notably in the heart-stopping scene when Lindsey breaks into Harvey‚Äôs house.