Warning: Spoiler……I give away the ending, so if you haven’t seen the film, don’t read this article yet.
As a survivor of child sexual abuse and a huge Peter Jackson fan, I was really looking forward to seeing The Lovely Bones, staring Mark Wahlberg, Susan Sarandon, Stanley Tucci, and Saoirse Ronan as the fourteen year-old rape and murder victim.
Set in the 1970’s, the film depicts a teenager’s experience in the realm ‘beyond’ after she is murdered, and supposedly raped (In the book, she was raped), by a disturbed eccentric (played wonderfully by Stanley Tuccie).
After her death, fourteen year-old, Susie Salmon, finds herself stuck in the ‘in-between’ world, which is a fantasy realm, and sort of ‘pleasurable purgatory,’ which is halfway between earth and Heaven. She can’t move on because she feels she has to get justice against her killer and mend the wounds of her father (Mark Wahlberg), who misses her terribly.
I was extremely disappointed with an important aspect of the film. The victim’s sister took it upon herself to dig up substantial evidence on the guy, and the child murderer got way with the crime. The ending, to me, was uneventful and irritating because victims and survivors of abuse get very little satisfaction seeing the perpetrator fall of a cliff and die instantly. We want to see the degenerate arrested, booked, tried, and then sentenced to a very long prison term. We want to see child rapists and child murderers in handcuffs and behind bars. It’s cathartic for previous victims of molestation and rape to watch a film where the sexual deviant gets punished.
I also give a big thumbs down for a scene between Susie Salmon and her grandmother, played by Susan Sarandon. Before the teen was murdered, she and her grandmother shared a moment together, talking about a girl’s first kiss. The grnadmother tells her fourteen year-old granddaughter, “My first kiss was with grown man. You’re not going to tell on me, are you?”
Susie replies, “Of course not. What was it like?”
The grandmother says, “The kiss? Oh it was wonderful. Beautiful, glorious. It took me a long time before I realized that a kiss like that, it only happens just once.”
Susan Sarandon has always been an advocate against child sexual abuse, so what the hell was she thinking when she agreed to that scene? The scene played no role in the script except to normalize and eroticize sexual intimacy between a child and a grown man, and that the adult-child sex is a secret that should be kept. Bad advice for victims of sexual abuse.
Over all, the film had some good acting and on-the-edge-of-your-seat moments, like when Susie’s sister is inside the killer’s house looking for evidence and he comes home.
The fantasy aspect of what the in-between world would be like is creative but I would like to have seen less fluff and more depth. I do like the way Susie discovers the truth about the perpetrator’s crimes and how many victims he had. This was a realistic portrayal of being in a dual realm.
I somewhat recommend this film, but given the chance, I would rebuke Susan Sarandon and Peter Jackson for advocating sex between an adult and a child.
I give The Lovely Bones three and a half stars.
This film is available at Netflix and in video stores now.
To watch the trailer for the film: Click Here