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Film / The Lovely Bones

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Run away, Susie!

The Lovely Bones is the 2009 film adaptation of the novel of the same name by Peter Jackson. It stars Saoirse Ronan, Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz, Stanley Tucci, and Susan Sarandon.

Tropes specific to the movie go here. For the book, see its dedicated page.

The film Specically Provides examples of:

  • Adaptational Attractiveness: A general example. Susie doesn't really like the 'in-between' and it only takes the form of the high school she never got to attend. The film depicts it as more of an overt fantasy world where Susie can do whatever she wants - although she quickly realises how empty it is.
  • Adaptational Heroism: Abigail in the book has an affair with the detective, which is left out of the film. She also returns home much earlier in the film than she does in the novel.note 
  • Adaptational Modesty:
    • In Alice Sebold's original novel, a disturbing rape scene is recounted in great detail. Director Peter Jackson chose to omit this section of the book, feeling that the re-enactment of the ordeal would have not just overwhelmed the film, but been too traumatic a sequence for the young Saoirse Ronan to endure.note 
    • Also in the novel Susie has sex with Ray while she's possessing Ruth. In the film it's only a kiss. Other lead up to sex scenes are absent all together.
  • Adaptation Distillation: Not surprisingly, as the book is one of the type that is about growing with the cast. Less time passes in the film than in the book. For example, Buckley is all grown up by the end of the book but is still a child at the end of the film.
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  • Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole: Harvey keeping the safe until much later raises some decent questions about the police searching. In addition on the minor side, the way the safe is disposed doesn't make as much sense without the background from the book.
  • Age Cut: The scene with Susie's picture of her as a toddler which then cuts to a picture of her at fourteen is an example of this.
  • Age Lift: Less time passes in the film than does in the book. Eight years pass in the book while only five years pass in the film.
  • Almost Kiss: In the movie, Ray and Susie are about to kiss at school until a teacher and Ruth interrupt them in the hallway. Subverted in the book.
  • Ascended Extra: While not a regular extra, Movie!Holly becomes a fellow victim of Mr. Harvey
  • Audience Shift: The book was marketed towards adults, although a lot of teenagers read it anyway. The movie was deliberately made tame enough that the scriptwriters' kids could watch it, and audience testing showed that teenage girls liked it much, much more than adults. So, after a limited release before Christmas 2009 to be eligible for Oscar consideration, the marketing was changed to promote it to teenagers and it was released in the spring. Roger Ebert noticed the shift and thought this and the whole film was creepy in all the wrong ways.
  • Big "NO!": When Susie realizes what has happened to her.
  • Book-Ends: The page quote above is said near the beginning and at the end of the movie.
  • The Cameo: Peter Jackson himself has a very brief appearance the first time Jack goes to get Susie's film developed. Even better, he's making a home movie with a period video camera throughout the duration of his appearance.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Movie only: Susie mentions the sinkhole at the Conners' farm in the beginning; near the end, Mr. Harvey dumps a safe with her body locked inside into it.
  • Dead All Along: Played with - the audience knows Susie was murdered from the beginning, and she quickly learns that she was as well, but for a few minutes after fleeing from Mr. Harvey's underground lair, she thinks that she managed to escape alive - she only realizes she's actually dead when she has a vision of Harvey washing her blood off in the bath.
  • Demoted to Extra: Ruana Singh, Ray's mother, has just a cameo early on in the film.
  • Disposing of a Body: Susie's body is hidden in the safe that gets thrown into the sinkhole at the end. Except, of course, Harvey keeps her there for ages just to relive the pleasure of killing her.
  • Drop Dead Gorgeous: The film was accused by some critics of doing this with the fourteen-year-old protagonist.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Grandma Lynn is always seen with a drink in her hand, implying that she's turning to the bottle to cope with Susie's death.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: Abigail's longer hair is shoulder length when she returns home, having gotten over Susie's death. Abigail also has no bangs and Jack's hair is shorter in the introduction, to indicate it's a different time.
  • Face Cam: When Mr. Harvey is chasing Lindsey inside his house. This shot is featured in the trailer.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Mr. Harvey's outward demeanor is generally friendly, if a bit odd. We realize quickly that it's at best a Paper-Thin Disguise and he's barely keeping it together.
  • Focus Group Ending: The ending was generally the same, but test audiences demanded a more gruesome onscreen comeuppance for the villain.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Mr. Harvey's death is foreshadowed by an earlier image of an icicle falling in the In Between, as Holly tells Susie that "everyone dies", suggesting that either Susie herself or some kind of cosmic force is responsible for Harvey's death.
    • The random, oversized objects (ball, hat, flute/recorder, etc) are linked to Harvey's other victims, revealing the In-Between as a special place just for them.
    • Susie watching the fridge disappear in the sink hole early on, later her body is being disposed the same way.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Mr. Harvey can be glimpsed in the background when Susie is shopping with Grandma Lynn at the mall. This ties in with Susie claiming he had been stalking her for a while.
  • Genre-Busting: The novel really doesn't fall under any particular genre; however, the movie has been labelled a "supernatural thriller".
  • Hell of a Heaven: Susie's in-between is shown as a multitude of happy acid trips, while she is more concerned about her family among the living.
  • Hypocritical Humour: Clarissa and Susie talk about Othello and list everything wrong with it. When Ray asks her what she thought of it, she immediately says she thought it was amazing.
  • Jacob Marley Apparel: Semi-averted in that Susie can change clothes when she wants, but her default clothes are the ones she wore when she died.
  • Large Ham: Susan Sarandon's outrageous grandma.
  • Mood Whiplash: Quite a bit in the film, especially with Susan Sarandon as the comic relief. Notably a goofy montage of her trying to take care of the children segues into Abigail sadly going into Susie's room.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The trailers for the movie marketed the movie as some kind of thriller. It's more of an exploration of Susie's life in heaven and how her family copes with their grief and eventually learns to move on.
  • Oh, Crap!: The movie has a particularly effective moment when Susie says to Mr. Harvey that she needs to go home, and then he responds by telling her to "be polite." The look on her face drives it home in that she now knows just how much trouble she's in.
    "...I don't want you to leave."
  • Oscar Bait: Peter Jackson going for a non-blockbuster drama adapted from a best selling book. It has many of the tropes associated with Oscar Bait - but it didn't take with the Academy. The only award it was up for was Stanley Tucci for Best Supporting Actor.
  • Rape as Drama: Unlike in the book, where Susie's rape is recounted in great detail, it's left open whether or not she was raped before Harvey murdered her. A line about one of the other girls he killed says "he only wanted to touch her", implying that some form of rape was involved.
  • Scenery Porn: The in-between has some very gorgeous scenery.
  • Shout-Out:
    • During the scene with Susie and Grandma Lynn in the bookstore, a 1970s poster advertising The Lord of the Rings book trilogy is on display.
    • The girl Susie meets in the in-between likes to be called Holly. She insists her name is Holly Golightly
  • Spared by the Adaptation: The family dog dies in the book and joins Susie in the in-between. He lives in the film.


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