‘The Lovely Bones’: Stuck in the in-between

Posted in awards season, movies by Diane on January 25, 2010

That's David Cassidy in her locker

Kudos to the production designer for “The Lovely Bones” — it’s eerie how much the film evokes Pennsylvania in the early ’70s.

We lived in the Keystone State in 1973, the year in which the movie was set, and believe you me it looked just like that. Those clothes! The neighborhood! David Cassidy posters!

Adding to the shock of recognition: Susie Salmon, the girl murdered early in the movie, was a few years older than I was at that time. I didn’t have a David Cassidy poster on my wall — or locker — but did have a crush on him like all the girls. I vividly recall belting out “I think I love you” on the merry-go-round with a group of pals; we never missed an installment of “The Partridge Family.”

The  period  detail was so uncanny that I fixated on the Nike running shoes Susie’s sister wears after the murder, the only detail that didn’t quite match my memory.  (Would they not have been blue and gold Waffle trainers?)

The movie itself was better than expected: It is less grisly than feared, focusing more on the aftermath of loss than the violent act itself. In his movie adaptation, director Peter Jackson created a nice blend of realism, suspense and mystical sequences.

Now that I’ve finally seen it, I’m a little surprised “The Lovely Bones” hasn’t made more of a splash. Maybe it’s too prosaically retro for some — and the story hook too forbidding for others. Perhaps the movie, like Susie Salmon, is stuck in the “in-between.”


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