“Lovely Bones” Finds Its Voice Out of Violence
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades
Recently we’ve been reading in the Key West Citizen about acts of violence, rape and muggings. Not the stuff we’d talk about in front of tourists.
Random acts, we say. But there’s nothing random about the way they affect the victim.
Sometimes coming to terms with such a horrific event takes a creative turn. Take, for example, author Alice Sebold. When she was an 18-year-old freshman at Syracuse University she was attacked, beaten, and brutally raped. Months later, while walking down a street near the campus, she recognized her rapist and pointed him out to police. Convicted, he received the maximum sentence.
Sebold needed to deal with her experience, and eventually wrote a book about it, a memoir ironically titled “Lucky.”
However, her subsequent attempts at writing a novel failed. “I felt the burden of trying to write a story that would encompass all rape victims’ stories and that immediately killed the idea of this individual character in the novel. So (my attempts) tended to be kind of fuzzy and bland ....”
Finally she got it right with a novel called “The Lovely Bones.” Written with a dash of magical realism, it tells the story of a 14-year-old girl who is raped, murdered, and dismembered – but continues to watch over her family from heaven as she comes to terms with her death.
Meanwhile, the killer goes undetected, planning another murder.
“I was motivated to write about violence because I believe it’s not unusual. I see it as just a part of life, and I think we get in trouble when we separate people who’ve experienced it from those who haven’t. Though it’s a horrible experience, it’s not as if violence hasn’t affected many of us.”
So she turned her memories and emotions into a fictional murder mystery.
Director Peter Jackson (“Lord of the Rings” trilogy) personally optioned the novel for a movie. His version of “The Lovely Bones” is currently playing at the Tropic Cinema.
Newcomer Saoirse Ronan stars as the tween victim. Jackson picked her because she reminded him of a young Cate Blanchett. “I can see her having the sort of career and making the types of films that Cate has been making,” he muses.
Mark Walhberg and Rachel Weicz play the girl’s parents. Rose McIver is the girl’s sister. And Susan Sarandon steps in as a member of the family.
Proving his diversity as an actor, Stanley Tucci takes on the role of the serial killer. We’ve seen him as the gay fashionista in “The Devil Wears Prada.” And as the boorish but supportive husband in “Julie & Julia.” Now he gets to do creepy. Nice range.
Susan Sarandon and her partner Tim Robbins lived near me when I had a home in Westchester County, NY. They recently broke up. But a few years ago you’d see Tim and Susan having coffee at the Starbucks in New Canaan. A friendly couple, they would nod hello.
She’s now making the rounds – Late Nite with David Letterman, Rachel Ray – promoting this film. Hard to believe, but she plays the grandmother in “Lovely Bones.” Again, nice range.
Here we have a murder mystery seen from the viewpoint of the victim. Perhaps disturbing for tweens and sensitive viewers. But well handled by the director who produced the third highest grossing film of all time (behind “Titanic” and “Avatar”). Indeed, lovely bones.
[from Solares Hill]