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The Essential Guide to Newcastle
24 February 2010
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The Lovely Bones (12A)

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Review byMatthew Turner18/02/2010

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 145 mins

The Lovely Bones features another superb turn from Saoirse Ronan but fails to engage on an emotional level, thanks to a bloated script, over-indulgent special effects, dull supporting characters and a couple of dodgy performances.

What's it all about?
Directed by Peter Jackson and adapted from the best-selling novel by Alice Sebold, The Lovely Bones begins in 1973, when happy 14-year-old Susie Salmon (Saoirse Ronan) is brutally murdered by her creepy neighbour (Stanley Tucci), who has somehow managed to build an underground lair in the field behind her house without anyone noticing. Susie finds herself in a weird technicolour version of heaven (complete with Tucci's other young victims) from which she's still able to observe the world she's left behind.

As the years pass, Susie watches helplessly as her distraught parents (Mark Wahlberg and Rachel Weisz) tear themselves apart, unable to move on. Meanwhile, Tucci remains undetected (despite looking like the world's most obvious paedophile) and appears to be setting his sights on Susie's younger sister Lindsey, who's now a teenager (Rose McIver).

The Good
Saoirse Ronan cements her reputation as one of our brightest young actresses, delivering a performance that's actually much better than the film deserves. There's also strong support from Susan Sarandon (who steals every scene she's in as Susie's grandmother) and McIver, who makes a strong impression as Lindsey, to the point where you wish the script had ditched the other supporting characters and concentrated on her instead – the bravura sequence where she breaks into Tucci's house is the film's only highlight.

The Bad
The main problem with the film is the extremely bloated script, which slows to a crawl immediately after the murder and then meanders all over the place – the film is two hours and twenty five minutes long as a result and you feel every second of that arse-numbing running time. In addition, the special effects may look pretty but they add nothing to the story, while various supporting characters remain undeveloped and could have been dropped with no significant loss to the plot.

On top of that, Wahlberg delivers another painfully wooden performance that suggests his heart isn't really in it, while Tucci's character is too obvious and cliched to really convince.

Worth seeing?
Despite a strong central performance from Saoirse Ronan, The Lovely Bones is a bloated, over-indulgent and frequently dull drama that never really comes to life. Disappointing.
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The Lovely Bones (12A)
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