Script: David Koepp, Fran Walsh, Peter Jackson, Philippa Boyens, Scott Silver, William Monahan
Cast: Liam Aiken, Mark Wahlberg, Michael Imperioli, Michael Peña, Rachel Weisz, Saoirse Ronan, Stanley Tucci, Susan Sarandon
I read the book this was based on a long time ago. So long ago that I don’t really remember the details. But I do remember thinking that it wasn’t the most film-friendly of novels when I heard that it was to be adapted. But of course neither was The Lord of the Rings and look how well Jackson et al did there. This, however, is a very different kettle of fish from LOTR.
This is the story of a girl, Susie Salmon, who is fourteen years old when she is murdered. It is the story of her journey in the afterlife. And it is the story of the family she left behind. Or at least that is what the film probably wants to be about. In actual fact the film is quite average. It tells the story, but never with any real depth or emotion.
I never really felt invested in anything that was going on up on the big screen. That’s not strictly true actually, the opening few scenes worked quite well, I liked Susie and her family. But then the murder happened and the story should have taken off. It never did; it plodded on.
Acting-wise I think that Rachel Weisz was probably the most effective. Not that there was anything terribly wrong with any of the others (save one, which I’ll get to in a moment). They all did a good solid job, Ronan was very good in her role. Sarandan was a little ott, but I think that was the character rather than any acting choice.
My main issue with the characters was with Stanly Tucci’s George Harvey. I don’t think what I’m about to say is a spoiler, so I’m not blacking it out, but if you are worried then this is your hint to stop reading now. He is the bad guy of the film. Susie’s murderer. And although it is never shown or actually said in the film he is a child abuser too. I just felt that the characterisation was so cliched and stereotypical of the neighbourhood weirdo & bad guy. I never wanted to feel sorry for him, nothing like that, but I do want characters to be maybe possibly realistic. I never thought of Harvey as a real person. He was merely “the murderer”.
I suppose that was the problem with a lot of this film. There weren’t characters, instead there were roles. The grieving parents. The vengeful father. The sorrowful mother etc. None of them ever became real enough for me to care properly about.
As for Susie’s version of heaven as portrayed by Jackson, well it looked pretty enough. But it most definitely wasn’t enough to make this film anything more than an average flick.