i received the book as a gift last christmas, and i devoured the book during the few days i had off from work at the time. i called it the lovely book. i couldn’t call it amazing, fantastic, or any of my usual adjectives. it was “the lovely book” for me.
of course, the subject matter is far from being lovely. it’s about a teenager, susie salmon, who was raped and murdered one afternoon by her neighbor. and the book is her accounts of what happened before, during, and after her murder. not necessarily in that order.
it’s not an easy book to like, but once you read it, you feel the emotions and you just can’t put it down. there’s no one way of describing the book, everyone will probably pick something different from the book. me? i saw the book as a great family drama. through susie’s eyes before and after life, i saw her family and felt the love she had for them.
for me, THE LOVELY BONES is a coming-of-age book anchored on a girl who will never come of age. the readers are invited to experience the pain of loss, the shattering of family and dreams, the disappearance of hope–and the healing powers of time. at the time i read it, it was the perfect book for where i was at that time of my life.
why do i say that? because it had nothing to do with me. it was completely separate from what was happening in my life. and for three days, i was able to escape into susie salmon’s world. it wasn’t a happy world, not always, but it was a world separate from mine. and it was a world so vibrant, so alive, that whenever i had to put the book down, i expected to see susie watching me.
i wish i could say the same about the movie.
yes, i forgot that i actually watched the movie.
i expected a lot from peter jackson. i loved how he directed THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy, because i found the books a bit on the boring side. but his THE LOVELY BONES was … forgettable, for the lack of a better term.
reading the book, i knew that it was going to be tough to put on film. the narrative jumped through different points of time–and not chronologically. and most of the things that resonate with you are memories, emotions, susie’s thoughts. how do you put that on screen?
while everyone from the cast gave stellar performances (in my opinion), i couldn’t connect with them because everything felt rushed–while, at the same time, all the character developments felt forced.
the two main points i have against the movie are these: susie’s in-between was too fantastical. at first, i was awed. it was, after all, very impressive. but then, this is from the guy who was behind THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy! i shouldn’t have expected less. so once that wow feeling was gone, i started to become skeptical of the in-between. it felt wrong. susie’s in-between in the book felt like a wonderful place where you can do anything you want, while giving you glimpses of what’s happening in the world. not because it wants you to, but because it responds to your desire to know what’s happening. in the movie, it felt as if susie didn’t have a choice. the in-between just wanted susie to move on, meet the other victims, and to keep reliving the horrible nightmare of her murder.
and the other point is susie’s mother. i loved how human she was in the book. she gave up, she had an affair, and she dealt with her daughter’s death the way a human being would. rachel weisz did amazing in the movie, but i didn’t see susie salmon’s mother in the material she was given. it didn’t help that her scenes seems to have been cut up and edited to show the fastest development possible.
in the end, i don’t think THE LOVELY BONES was a good fit for a movie. the book was raw with emotion, and the movie just felt raw.
maybe down the road, someone will make another attempt to put THE LOVELY BONES on the silver screen. and maybe that person would do a better job. but for me, i think it’s better that THE LOVELY BONES stay on printed pages.