It’s cards on the table time, before I even start. I don’t think Alice Sebold’s novel – on which this is based – is that wonderful. Sorry, friends. I did seem to nod when you said this. I was going along with you. I do that way too often.
Equally, I don’t think Peter Jackson’s “Lord Of The Rings” is the best thing ever. The Tolkien books are – now and forever – the books I had to read in Grade 7. I really liked and continue to like “The Hobbit”, as a book. But I don’t own any of the “Lord Of The Rings” books or DVDs and that says it all, given the sheer number of books and DVDs in this home.
As a general point of principle, I think child murder is a horrible subject for a book or film, no matter how charming and fey and sugar-coated it may be. I avoid those flicks. Even the utterly grisly “Law Abiding Citizen” managed to turn its eyes away from THAT. I like a good crime movie, but I think the film noir classics do that genre best. Most of those movies are refreshingly short at about 90 minutes. Lots of them say something very special about life, death and being human.
This movie doesn’t.
It’s 150 minutes long, which is about 40 minutes too long. At least the lovely young actress Saoirse Ronan loses the stupid hat once she is actually dead. I couldn’t bear the hat. I have a hippie friend who owns something similar and I have real trouble not burning that thing. And, yes, the hat and the elbow are significant to the plot, but they are both still just plain icky.
I very nearly called my daughter Saoirse, which means “freedom”, and this young woman has a bright future in acting, and she does shine out in a cast who seem to have phoned in their performances.
Rachel Weisz, Mark Wahlberg and Susan Sarandon (I adore Susan Sarandon) are about as believable as pork chops at an Israeli festival. They are not quite wasted, but not right either. The police bits are pretty good and the young chap playing the almost love interest – I simply cannot be bothered to look up who he is and I’ll see him again in something – is curiously affecting, in highlighting a young life cut off. Similarly, the victim’s sister is very good.
So, I saw this entirely because it was cheap and I needed the distraction. Plot – I almost forgot the plot. Young girl is raped and murdered by a creepy neighbour, played by the fantastic Stanley Tucci. Girl is torn between unmasking the murderer and letting her family heal and move on. Girl is caught for awhile in an in-between world full of very pretty trees and interesting lighting. Girl appears to people periodically. Life moves on, for the living. Erm, that’s it.
There are some clever twists. I didn’t leave and I was only marginally annoyed. Maybe Peter Jackson should go back to hobbits. Or find a better book to film, or something. I don’t exactly want these 150 minutes back, and it passes the time in quite a distracting and effective way, but I won’t see it a second time. I would advise you not to bother with the first time viewing, if you can prevent it. Rent “The Box” if you want to see a creepy crime. It’s tons better.