ARI SHAPIRO, host:
"The Lovely Bones" was a very popular and very unusual novel - told from the perspective of a dead teenage girl. Book lover and film critic Kenneth Turan has this review of the movie version.
KENNETH TURAN: The novel magically blended together mismatched elements - the warmly sentimental, the serial killer sinister and the science fiction fantastical. In the film version, that unlikely combination comes back to haunt us.
Director Peter Jackson and the writing team that tackled the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy took on the story about a 14-year-old girl who was savagely murdered.
Jackson's best move was casting young Irish actress Saoirse Ronan, Oscar-nominated for "Atonement," as the murdered Susie Salmon. Ronan brings naturalness, honesty and radiance to the part of a teenager in the throes of her first romantic crush.
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Ms. SAOIRSE RONAN (Actress): (as Susie Salmon) Oh crap. It's okay.
Mr. REECE RITCHIE (Actor): (as Ray Singh) No, I've got it.
Ms. RONAN: (as Susie Salmon) (Unintelligible). I don't even sleep at my...well, I, I do.
Mr. RITCHIE: (as Ray Singh) Susie?
Ms. RONAN: (as Susie Salmon) Hum?
Mr. RITCHIE: (as Ray Singh) What are you doing on Saturday?
TURAN: One of the other best things about the film is its imaginative creation of Susie's afterlife, where she watches as her friends, her family and her killer go on about their lives. A field of barley that changes into a rolling ocean, huge versions of the ships in a bottle that were her father's hobby they all create a world that is particular to Susie, and that makes it appeal to us all.
The problem with the film is that it emphasizes the weirdest, creepiest elements of the book, including Susie's murderer. He's such a horrific individual that Stanley Tucci, the actor who plays him, says he came close to turning down the role.
These shocking things are key plot points, but seeing them on the screen makes them play differently, disturbing the story's balance. If the novel was comforting, this film leaves a queasy taste in your mouth and that might be the most shocking thing of all.
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SHAPIRO: Kenneth Turan reviews movies for MORNING EDITION and the Los Angeles Times. And we have more movie reviews at NPR.org.
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SHAPIRO: This is NPR News.
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