The Lovely Bones

Wednesday, August 4, 2010 12:15 PM By crosswaysnet , In ,

This movie has been savaged by the well-meaning and those who don't know well what they mean.

What are 'the Lovely Bones?' Ah, now the answer to that will take a fair viewing to sort out. And the closing paragraphs from the lips of Susie Salmon will mean nothing to the viewer without the story that precedes it.

What of all the talk of Heaven? There is no Heaven here - just the longing for one. We peek over the rim from Neverland at the very end, but since we're not supposed to go there, we're not allowed more than a glaring obscurity. Some criticize the imagination of Peter Jackson for bringing us a techno-color CandyLand, all sugary sweetness and no nourishment. But that complaint completely misses his genius. This is Susie Salmon's time of bright shadows, not Peter's. Ripped from a world of polyester, psychedelic daisies and David Cassidy posters, we're entering a very different inner world than our 'today.' It's one of a 14-year-old young lady of the 1970s. It is groovy and timeless. Yet the horrors that preceded it bust in with alarming rudeness proving this is no Nirvana. Just when we've grown accustomed to this playground and think it will resolve, it crumbles to dust. As it must. It was never meant to be something of substance. Susie's looking glass is the quick blog of a soul beginning a much larger adventure. A tweet from the unending song.

If the story frustrates, it was intended to.  There is no 'justice' in the world of the pre-living. The survivors are only able to embrace celebration of the life now lost to them. And Susie is free to find a new home. But it is heart-wrenching, no matter who you are cheering for. It is also beautiful. And those left behind are beautiful because Susie allows them to be. It's not a decision she comes by easily. "I never hated anyone in my whole life, but I hated now," Susie says. Echoes of her rage play out with sickening consequences through the hands of her own father. Yet even there, her willingness to forgive - or at least release - somehow breaks the chains that might have imprisoned her family forever. She's the accidental savior. When you're a parent it's something you see over and over in your own children, even on this side of eternity.

Where Peter Jackson's telling diverges from the book it is really for the best. Alice Sebold actually rips Susie's innocence from her twice - and that unnecessarily - while calling it 'love.' Peter grants her freedom from a surrender no soul can make after their bones are at rest.

In the end, it's mostly wisps and whispers that punctuate the in between places, and sometimes the howls of in-acceptance. Ms. Sebold's story allows all the inadequacies of life to resolve themselves their own way, instinctively knowing that ghosts don't go to Heaven. That our legacy is not fully-formed until both sides - in concert - bid farewell is the twist. And it delivers.


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