Friday, April 01, 2011

Peter Jackson's "The Lovely Bones" anticipates "Inception" and "Biutiful"

Peter Jackson has followed up on his LOTR trilogy with a supernatural film “The Lovely Bones”, 2009, from Paramount, Dreamworks and Film4.  The long film (136 minutes) puts together or anticipates several genres: “Inception”, “Biutiful”. “What Dreams May Come”, and even “Silence of the Lambs”. It’s based on a novel by Alice Sebold.

The film tells the story of a Pennsylvania family (the Salmons) from the viewpoint of a 14 year old girl Susie (Saoirse Ronan), who has passed away, and gradually coming to terms with her new experience of the Afterlife.   Early on, we see family life in 1973, with parents played by Marky Mark Wahlberg (who longs young himself) and Rachel Weisz, and a wonderful, puppy-love high school boyfriend, a bit old for her perhaps (a senior), played by Reece Ritchie (but that’s a fake lead as to the story direction).  There are curious roadside America attractions around her home, including a quarry for dumping things. But that’s still OK; Pennsylvania’s slogan is “America starts here.”  Pretty soon, when out on her own, taking a shortcut through a cornfield (another hint of horror films past), she encounters the “kindly” neighbor George Harvey (Stanley Tucci), who has built a kids’ dollhouse underground. 

Now, it’s pretty easy to imagine, unfortunately, what he is up to. She tries to leave the dollhouse and seems to escape, but the world around her grows foggy and fuzzy. When she gets home, everything is different. It takes her a while to come to terms with the fact she was killed and has passed away, even if the continuity of her sense of experience was never broken. Finally we see the tunnel of the near-death experience, and it’s one way, as if one side of the Allegheny Mountain tunnel (perhaps nearby) were shut down.  Peter Jackson’s idea of Heaven or the Next Life is definitely that of an alternate universe, without quite the continuity of ours. It’s pretty conventional as to imagination, and as to the scenery.  (Maybe some of it is in the model railroad attraction “Roadside America”, shown here at ground level, 2.35:1).  But now she has to watch her family deal with the loss.  Will the detectives close in on Harvey?  What will come of the angry, vengeful encounters between her father and Harvey.  From Heaven, she has to save her family, with a sense of justice but not revenge. .

Here is Paramount’s official site

The obscure Reelz Channel (airing the controversial “The Kennedys”) has an interview with Tucci about the film on YouTube.

No comments: