Peter Jackson plows through some heavy material with this adaptation of Alice Sebold’s bestseller. Susie Salmon is a young girl who, after being raped and murdered by serial killing neighbor George Harvey (Tucci), watches her family (and her murderer) from an in-between place that isn’t quite heaven.
Though Jackson does have some success at stringing out the tension, The Lovely Bones tends to fall into bouts of melodrama, especially in Susie’s day-glo world of CGI flourishes and over-the-top symbolism. Ronan does a decent job in the lead role, but any empathy she evokes is usually compromised by another overly long close-up of Susie staring longingly into the distance. Tucci, who alternates between creepy friendliness and uneasy, below-the-surface yearning, is convincing enough as the killer. Ultimately, there’s enough to keep you in your seat - it’s definitely nerve-racking - but you’ll have to sit through some heavy-handed groping with a very difficult subject.
THE LOVELY BONES (IN MEINEM HIMMEL) (USA, UK, New Zealand 2009) Directed by Peter Jackson with Saoirse Ronan, Rachel Weisz, Susan Sarandon, Stanley Tucci. Starts February 18. Rating: 2/4