Couple of Weeks ago Milly Boele from the Netherlands disappeared. The last thing we knew is that she was talking with her mum on the phone when she hung up saying: “There is a man at the front door”. After this conversation nobody has heard or seen a thing about her. She just vanished…
Susie Salmon (Saoirse Ronan) suffers a similar fate in THE LOVELY BONES. She is your average kid, who likes to takes photographs and watch movies and plays. Susie is the oldest of the 3 kids Jack (Mark Wahlberg) and Abigail Salmon (Rachel Weisz) have. Their family can be described as your average happy American family. However even they could not see the tragedy about to come…
George Harvey, a neighbor who lives a couple of blocks further down the street, notices dear Susie Salmon one summer day. He feels compelled to get her near him, so he comes with a cleverly devised plan. Within this plan he describes a contraption underneath a grain field, which is basically a shed, but then hidden out of sight.
One random school night Susie has a movie class and talks a bit with Ray Sing (Reece Ritchie), a guy she has a crush on. They plan to meet each other the next day at the mall. It is late and she walks home through the grain field to get home a bit faster. She stumbles upon Mr. Harvey, who finally sees his chance. He lures Susie to take a look at his secret club house he made for the kids in the neighborhood. She hesitates but gives in after much persuasion from Mr. Harvey. When they both are inside the shed, he has his way with her.
Next scene we see Susie escaping from the contraption, only to find out that it is her spirit who escaped and she is no longer among the living. Her body was left behind and she never made it. Her spirit however transits to a place between Heaven and Earth. In this weird place she is been given a choice:
Find out who her murderer is and make sure he gets what he deserves? Or let everything be and let her family heal from the loss they have suffered.
While she is watching everything from this magical place she is in, her family is attempting to find her lost body. The decisions Susie has to make and the search of the family is tense. At moments you are on the edge of your seat almost screaming at the screen: “Watch out! Do not go into this room!”, “Get that damn bastard, cut off his …” Alright, alright I am getting a bit carried away now, but this is an indication on how much emotional load this movie has. I must say that director Peter Jackson did a terrific job on translating these feelings, a bit similar as how he did DISTRICT 9. With THE LOVELY BONES however these emotions are more recognizable for the audience.
In the end Susie makes some though decisions, like confronting the history of her killer, grasping that last chance to share some tender moments with her crush Ray Sing and letting her family be so they can heal their pain. Even though she was advised to do things differently, it shows that some decisions are worth taking.
The movie, which is based on the book with the same title, is full of things one should do or should not do. You know, those lines you hear from your parents each day: “Do not talk with strangers, not even those from the neighborhood”, “Do not wander late at night, do not go through places without streetlights” and so on. But besides that, this movie gives you a real good indication how people cope with the loss of someone close. As you might have mentioned throughout your read, I am very positive about this movie. For me THE LOVELY BONES is definitely one of the better movies I have seen lately and I would recommend it to everyone. Most critics will probably not agree with me, but I think they were expecting more of a murder / detective mystery, instead of a fantasy thriller.
Now I started this review concerning Milly. She eventually was found when her neighbor went to the local police station to confess his crimes, similar to that what happened with Susie. Her body however was found in his backyard, buried underneath the earth. My condolences go to her family and I can only hope that her neighbor will eventually be punished for his crimes, one way or the other. No sane human being should ever do something this horrifying, nor should someone ever have to endure such pain.