Thursday, 29 September 2011

The Lovely Bones

However I stayed up for other trash previously and for one film which attracted many awards but which I abandoned unwilling to watch the rest, a rare action on my part. The Lovely Bones title is a quotation taken from the novel's end, where a murdered 14 year old Susie reflects on her friends' and family's newfound strength after her death. She is reported as saying : These were the lovely bones that had grown around my absence: the connections — sometimes tenuous, sometimes made at great cost, but often magnificent — that happened after I was gone. And I began to see things in a way that let me hold the world without me in it. The events my death brought were merely the bones of a body that would become whole at some unpredictable time in the future. The price of what I came to see as this miraculous lifeless body had been my life.”

So this is a film is a supernatural work ler (?), about a belief an after life, so that all else what happens before is preparation, trials and tests in which there are levels of heaven! The film based on the book by Alice Sebold and directed by Peter Jackson. Because it is Peter Jackson the film attracted advance media attention but on seeing the trailer I knew it was not a film or a subject that I wanted to see but on noting a showing on Television I decided to begin the experience.

The film is the story of what happens to a family when their daughter disappears, with evidence that she was murdered subsequently although the rest of her body is not discovered. The girl is different from others and remarkable in that although barely able to drive when several years younger she takes her brother who has collapsed to hospital and saves his life. Her grand mother (Susan Sarandon) says this is an omen that she is going to have a long and good life.

The girl takes up photography saying this is what she wants to do as work when she becomes an adult and uses over a year’s supply of film within a few days so that the parents explain that the cost of developing is such that they will allow her one role of film a month. When she is declared dead the father honours this commitment by developing one role a month (which is one of many flaws in this disturbing and sickening film because in reality the police would have developed every film immediately and hence discovered the significant clue/evidence on the last film taken for developing.

We the audience know that December 6, 1973, in a suburb of Philadelphia, Susie Salmon takes her usual shortcut home from her school through a cornfield and meets George Harvey, a 36-year-old neighbour who lives alone and builds dollhouses for a living, He cleverly persuades her to visit, and an underground den he has created for young people and when she become suspicious and wants to leave she is prevented from doing so. At last we are spared the gruesome details of what happened to her and thereafter we see her whole being, apparently content and happy, upset because her family do not understand and are upset and disunited, believing at first she has survived but then realising she is living in her own “perfect” world

The Salmon family refuses to accept that Susie is dead, until part of her body is found by the neighbour's dog. The police visit the neighbour among other suspects and while deciding he is eccentric they have no evidence to tie him with the crime. With the death of school girl Milly Dowler so much in mind because of the News World Scandal, the announcement that News International is to enter into a private settlement with the family and that the case was again mentioned in the speech of the Labour Party Leader to his conference on Tuesday afternoon I found the whole way this story is portrayed upsetting and nauseating. It is exploitation of the worst kind especially as the story continues.

The film covers the usual family developments in such situations with the parents devastated and guilty because of the times they disciplined their daughter or were unable to grant all her wishes. Father becomes preoccupied gives up work and becomes obsessed with finding the killer, not helped when the detective assigned to the case, tells the Salmons that the police have exhausted all leads and are dropping the investigation. That night in his study, Jack looks out the window and sees a flashlight in the cornfield. Believing it is Harvey returning to destroy evidence, he runs out to confront him, armed with a baseball bat. The figure is not actually Harvey, but Clarissa, Susie's friend. As Susie watches in horror from heaven, Brian - who was going to meet Clarissa in the cornfield - beats Jack with the bat, after finding him and the panicking Clarissa, and breaks Jacks knee. While Jack recovers from a knee replacement surgery, Susie's mother, Abigail, begins an affair with the widowed Detective.
Trying to help her father prove his suspicions, Lindsey the other daughter in the family sneaks into Harvey's house and finds a diagram of the underground den, but is forced to leave when Harvey returns unexpectedly. The police, however, satisfied with Harvey's explanation, do not arrest him, which allows him to leave the community. Later, evidence is discovered linking Harvey to Susie's murder, as well as to those of several other young girls.

Susie meets his other victims in heaven, sees into Harvey's traumatic childhood, and realizes that he has made several unsuccessful attempts to stop killing.

Abigail leaves Jack, eventually taking a job at a winery in California. Her mother, Grandma Lynn, moves into the Salmons' home to care for Buckley and Lindsey. At this point I had enough and watched the end of a Bond film.

According to Wikipedia Eight years later, Lindsey and her boyfriend, Samuel Heckler, become engaged after finishing college, find an old house in the woods owned by a classmate's father, and decide to fix it up and live there. Sometime after the celebration, while arguing with his son Buckley who Susie had saved, Jack suffers a heart attack. The emergency prompts Abigail to return from California, but the reunion is tempered by Buckley's lingering bitterness for her abandoning the family for most of his childhood.

Meanwhile, the murderer returns to the town, which has become more developed. He explores neighbourhood and notices the school is being expanded into the cornfield where he murdered Susie. He drives by the sinkhole where Susie's body rests and where two former classmates are standing and who had felt Susie's spirit rush past her immediately after she was murdered, senses the women Harvey has killed and is physically overcome. The father and the son had also felt Susie’s presence during the time where what had happened was unknown

Susie, watching from heaven, is also overwhelmed with emotion and feels how she and Ruth transcend their present existence, and the two girls exchange positions: Susie, her spirit now in Ruth's body, connects with Ray, who had a crush on Susie in school, and had made plans to go out with her a few days before the murder. Ray senses Susie's presence, and is stunned by the fact that Susie is briefly back with him. In the bike shop of Sam Heckler's older brother Hal they find a room to make love, as Susie has longed to do after witnessing her sister and Samuel. Afterwards, Susie must return to heaven.

While I remain uncertain about many aspects I believe there is a sub plot which Wikipedia does not mention in that Ray had sent a love note to Susie or from Susie to Brian whom she had with her when she returned home and let go just before she was murdered. It was found by Ruth who gives is to Brian and not to the police as a means of commencing their relationship.

Susie moves on into another, larger part of heaven, occasionally watching earthbound events. Her sister gives birth to a daughter, Abigail Suzanne.

When stalking another young girl in New Hampshire, the serial murderer is hit by a huge icicle and falls down a snow-covered slope, dying from the wound. At the end of the novel, Susie's charm bracelet is found by a Norristown couple who know nothing of its significance, and Susie closes the story by wishing the reader "a long and happy life.

Unsurprising the film is reported not to have been immediately popular with limited income so was redirected in its marketing from a sophisticated adult audience to high school and college girls aged 13-20 during a three year screen theatre release. I agreed with one critic who described the film as deplorable in that it appears to suggest that the girl become happier and more fulfilled after being murdered. Some claimed the problem was the direction and editing by Jackson which failed to communicate the spirituality of the book.

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