The Lovely Bones is a 2009 supernatural thriller drama film directed by Peter Jackson, and starring Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz, Susan Sarandon, Stanley Tucci, Michael Imperioli, and Saoirse Ronan. The screenplay by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, and Jackson was based on Alice Sebold’s award-winning and bestselling 2002 novel of the same name. It follows a girl who is murdered and watches over her family from “the in-between”, and is torn between seeking vengeance on her killer and allowing her family to heal.
In 1973, 14-year-old high school freshman Susie Salmon dreams of becoming a photographer. One day, Ray, a boy she has a crush on, asks her out. As Susie walks home through a cornfield, she runs into her neighbor, George Harvey, who coaxes her into an underground “kid’s hideout” he has built. Inside, Susie grows uncomfortable and attempts to leave; Harvey grabs her and the scene fades until she is seen rushing past her alarmed classmate Ruth Connors, seemingly fleeing Harvey’s den.
The Salmons become worried when Susie fails to return home from school. Her father, Jack, searches for her, while her mother, Abigail, waits for the police. In town, Susie sees Jack, who does not respond to her when she calls. Susie runs home to find Harvey soaking in a bathtub. After seeing the bloody bathroom and her bracelet hanging on the sink faucet, Susie realizes she never escaped the underground den and Harvey murdered her. Screaming, she is pulled into the “In-Between”, that is neither Heaven nor Earth. From there, Susie watches over her loved ones, and resists her new afterlife friend Holly’s urging her to let go.
Investigating Susie’s disappearance with Detective Fenerman, Jack believes Susie was murdered by someone she knew. He researches neighbors and eventually suspects Harvey is the killer. Fenerman is unable to find proof, as Harvey has carefully concealed the evidence. Susie’s sister, Lindsey, agrees with Jack’s suspicions, but their casework takes a toll on Abigail. Abigail’s alcoholic mother, Lynn, moves into the house. Feeling alienated from her husband, Abigail goes to California. Susie, in her afterlife, learns that Harvey, who has targeted Lindsey as his next victim, has murdered six other girls, including Holly, and that he stuffed Susie’s body into a large safe in his basement.
One night, Jack, carrying a baseball bat, trails Harvey into the cornfield. However, Jack accidentally stumbles across a teen couple. The boy, thinking they will be assaulted, nearly bludgeons Jack to death as Harvey watches nearby. As Jack recuperates, Lindsey breaks into Harvey’s house looking for evidence that he killed Susie. Upstairs, she finds a notebook containing a sketch of the underground den, a lock of Susie’s hair, and news articles about Susie’s disappearance. Harvey returns and almost catches Lindsey, but she escapes and rushes home to discover that her mother has returned. She gives the notebook to her grandmother, who contacts the police. Harvey has already fled his home – taking the safe containing Susie’s body with him.
Susie’s afterlife begins expanding into a larger heaven, and she is greeted by Harvey’s other victims—now showing ten, including Susie. She resists Holly urging her to enter Heaven along with the others, claiming she has one final thing to do. Meanwhile, Susie’s classmates Ruth and Ray are present when Harvey drives up to dispose of the safe at a sinkhole dump site on the Conners’ property. Susie returns to Earth and enters Ruth’s body, causing Ruth to faint. Ray rushes to Ruth’s aid only to realize she has become Susie. They kiss, completing Susie’s last wish, and she returns to Heaven. Meanwhile, Harvey dumps the safe in the sinkhole, leaving it to disappear in the muddy water as he drives away.
Sometime later, Harvey meets a young woman outside a diner and offers her a ride, but she rebuffs him and leaves. A large icicle falls from an overhead branch, hitting Harvey’s shoulder, causing him to fall backward over a steep cliff to his death. Time passes, and Susie sees that her family is healing, which Susie refers to as “the lovely bones” that grew around her absence. Susie finally enters Heaven, telling the audience: “My name is Salmon, like the fish; first name Susie. I was 14 years old when I was murdered on December 6, 1973. I was here for a moment and then I was gone. I wish you all a long and happy life.”
Despite what I think was really good acting by the cast, the way the movie has so much cheesy stuff in it and the storylines were a bit boring. The way the movie was shot and the stuff about the in-between let me down. 7 outta 10!