Thursday, April 23, 2015

Movie Review: The Lovely Bones

Based from the best selling novel of the same name by Alice Sebold. The Lovely Bones is set in Pennsylvania, where the author grew up, in 1973. She wrote the books The Lovely Bones and Lucky because of she was brutally raped when she was a freshmen in college and she wants to send a message about the hardship and trauma that comes with that horrible experience. The film is about a 14-year-old girl named Suzie Salmon, who was raped and killed. It circles around the people around her and how they are trying to cope with her loss and finding who is responsible for her death. After her death, Suzie was pulled in the in-between, where she watches the people she left behind. The in-between is like purgatory, where Suzie stays because of her struggle in accepting her feeling about her shortened life despite the encouragement to move on by her friend in the afterlife, Holly played by Niki SooHoo.
            Directed by the Academy award winner Peter Jackson, who is famous for directing the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Mr. Jackson over all did a good job on the adaption of the book. I agree with his decision to cut out the rape scene because it was too much, it sidetracks the viewer from understanding the theme of the movie that is life, death and acceptance, and the film is already too dramatic already for my taste. As for the actors, some did an amazing job while the others tumbled down. Saoirse Ronan, who plays Suzie Salmon, really pushed herself in doing justice to role, she brought many emotions to the film and as an actor she grew more professionally then when I last saw her in Atonement. She is the perfect choice for the Suzie and her narration of the story really got my attention. Stanley Tucci, who plays the murderer Mr. Harvey, stands out the most. He did an outstanding job in portraying the villain. Mr. Tucci underwent a lot of physical and emotional transformation for the part of Mr. Harvey and his performance was satisfactory that gives me the creeps. He made me believe that Mr. Harvey was real. As for Mark Wahlberg and Rachel Weisz, who play Suzie’s parents Jack and Abigail Salmon, I did not like their performance; they lacked the ability to show the viewers the emotions their characters went through. Their delivery of the persona of the characters was poor and injustice.     

            Furthermore, we can see the time frame of the movie from the costume and music. The clothes in the film are filled with vibrant colors that capture the fashion in the seventies. Flared jeans, colorful polyester sweaters, and mousy poufy hair with full bangs represent the era. The filmmakers also used costumes as a way of reflecting the feelings of the Salmon family; they started wearing dark colored clothes after Suzie’s death. The soundtrack in the film changes to fit the mood of the scene; from the upbeat music when the family was whole and happy to a darker music when Suzie’s world was demolish after her father was attacked to a more peaceful song when Suzie moved on. The special effects in the film, especially in the in-between scenes were astonishing and filled with imagery. They really captured the mood of Suzie in the in-between by shadowing her emotions to the place.  Imagery is a key component in the Lovely Bones; it makes the story more meaningful and deep. The film is full of symbolism. The bracelet for example, the chain represents the bond of the Salmon family and the house charm represents Suzie. The snow globe foreshadows the Suzie’s time in the in-between. While Suzie’s room symbolizes her time when she was still alive and that’s why her mom cannot remove Suzie’s things because she cannot accept the fact that her daughter is gone. The title itself has a deeper meaning, the Lovely Bones represent the solid bond of the family and as time goes on they accepted her death and Suzie saw how stable the bond is without her in it. The Lovely Bones also represents Suzie’s elbow that they found and how it represents the lovely memories of Suzie. Moreover, Paradox, irony, ambiguity and tension make the film poetic, which makes it a literary work.

In the movie, the family dynamics of the Salmon’s was really significant. Before Suzie’s death, we can clearly see Abigail and Jack love for each other. The family is strong and has a positive family dynamics. Jack is the protector of the family, when Suzie did not come home he immediately went out the house searching for her. Abigail is the typical mother. She is caring and warm-hearted to her family, but after Suzie’s death she just had a hard time dealing with it and that made her leave.  Lindsey Salmon, Suzie’s sister played by Rose McIver, is a strong character. We see her masculinity when she was running around the community and playing baseball with her father but we see her feminine side when she was with her boyfriend. She is the strong pillar in the family because she lets her family grief while she deals with life and she went to extremes just to find evidence against Mr. Harvey. She showed him how strong she is, that she is not afraid of him, and her willingness to give justice to her sister.  Suzie’s younger brother, Buckley Salmon played by Christian Ashdale can be seen as the innocent one because of his age but he is the one who knows where Suzie is and that she is watching over them. After Suzie’s death, we can see how each of the members of the Salmon household deals with their grief. They all have a different coping mechanism, like finding the murderer, running away from the problem and excessive drinking. Like her family, Suzie undergo through trials, at first she is reluctant to move on because she cannot accept her shortened life and she wants her father to identify her murderer. In the end, She accepted her death and moved on, with that she and the other victims of Mr. Harvey went to heaven. With that the film clearly promotes the idea of heaven and purgatory, which is the in-between for Suzie.

Also, the patriarchy system in the Salmon family is very distinguished. We see Jack Salmon as the head and leader of the family. He is the alpha-male and he does not want anything bad to happen in the family. So when Suzie died, he became so obsess with finding what happened and who murdered his daughter. On another note, many conflicts arise in the film. First, the conflict between the Salmon family and Mr. Harvey, this is a man versus man type of conflict. Second is Mr. Harvey versus himself. He is trying to control his urge for Suzie but failed. Lastly, Suzie versus death, at first she cannot accept the fact that she is dead but in the end she moved on.

Moreover, if we changed the point of view, the theme of the story will change. The film needed Suzie’s point of view so the viewer can see how she accepted her fate in the end. Mr. Harvey’s story was left untold in the movie. I wished that they included his background, so that the viewers can better understand him and the trauma he had growing up that led him to what he is now.  I believe that no one is born evil or good and being good and evil has to do with something with the environment around the person. So we cannot fully shun Mr. Harvey for what he did, some factors can affect his actions. I am not saying that what he did is not bad; it is bad but looking at it in a psychological perspective childhood abuse and comorbid psychiatric illnesses are risk factors that can lead to pedophilic urges. Possibly, the author omitted Mr. Harvey’s tale in order to avoid confusion. They want the viewers to concentrate of the story of Suzie and not Mr. Harvey.  They want to make Mr. Harvey this intense, merciless character that everyone loves to hate. Power Relation is another major component in this film and we can clearly see this in Mr. Harvey’s character. In his mind, since he is never caught or punished for his crime he keeps doing it. He also likes the power he feels when he abuses those little girls because of the superiority he has over them.

                 In addition, In Freud’s model, we can say that Mr. Harvey superego did not developed well due to the fact that he has no conscience and he did not feel any guilt for murdering those girls and he keeps doing it after. He does not have any barrier between right and wrong. Also, the people in the community do not acknowledge the idea of bad things happening. They think that they are living in this perfect world that no bad thing can ever happen to them. Especially the children, with their innocence they still do not fully grasp the concept of living and dying.

This movie is suitable for teenagers to adults and I definitely recommend watching it because it would really shed light to some perspectives about life and death. It reminds me to carry pepper spray with me wherever I go because it is better to be prepared and with the kind of society we have right now, where more bad things are happening, we can never be too careful. Kidding aside, The Lovely Bones made me realize how fate plays a big part in our life, how blind we are to accept what is in front of us, whether it might be good or bad. Even if we lost someone who The lesson we can take from this film is that we should appreciate every walking moment we have and cherish each moment because time is precious and no one can avoid death is a part of life that many people fear but we always have to remember that death leads to new beginning.

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