The Lovely Bones (2009)

 ●  English ● 2 hrs 15 mins

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Based on the critically acclaimed best-selling novel by Alice Sebold, this offbeat and introspective fantasy thriller follows Susie Salmon of Norristown, Pennsylvania as she narrates a story that begins in 1973, when she was a typical fourteen year old in a loving family to which no bad things ever happened. That year, special things going on in her life were the beginning of her aspirations to become a wildlife photographer, and her burgeoning romantic feelings, seemingly reciprocated, for senior British transfer student Ray Singh. If she was not preoccupied with these thoughts, Susie believes she would have noticed or felt the creepiness of neighbor George Harvey, a serial killer of females of all ages, who ends up murdering her. In telling the story, Susie does not remember the exact method of her death or where her body is located, which the authorities do not find but who have evidence that Susie is most-likely dead. She died without ever getting her first romantic kiss. Her mother, Abigail Salmon, is not dealing with her death well, keeping her bedroom as a sealed up memorial. Her father, Jack Salmon, cannot let go of ever finding out what happened to her, although he, along with their two other younger children, Lindsey and Buckley, feel like they can occasionally feel Susie's afterlife presence. Indeed, Susie, currently in-between heaven and Earth, is looking over her family, as well as Ray. Another neighborhood girl, Ruth Connors, who most deem weird, is also able to feel those in the hereafter, including Susie. However, another young female who Susie meets in her current location tells Susie that she must advance forward to the next step. But Susie seems somewhat determined to try and lead those that can feel her presence to the fact of George being her murderer, especially when his next potential victim seems to be Lindsey. If Susie is able to let go, she may learn that she and her fellow travelers have a higher purpose in needing to move forward.
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Did you know? The director, Peter Jackson makes a cameo appearance in this movie as the man with the movie camera in the pharmacy, when Jack Salmon picks up the prints from the first roll of Susie's film. Read More
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In Susie's flashback, you see Mr Harvey dragging her cut up body into the safe with all his clothes on. His clothes were clean and contained no blood on it, yet we saw Susie watching him clean up all the blood and mud in his bathroom after her death. He is then seen getting rid of or cleaning the dirty clothes

George pulls the house figure from Susie's charm bracelet right before he throws it into the water. In the next dream scene with Susie the bracelet falls in the water but still has the house figure.

When Lindsey breaks into George's house the grandfather clock's time goes backwards. At DVD time stamp 1:40:57 the clock shows 3:49:52 and at DVD time stamp 1:43:11 the clock shows 3:49:19.

When Lindsey breaks into Mr. Harvey's basement through the window she falls on to newspapers and they drop to the floor only to have them disappear in the next scene.

After Jack has been beaten up by Brian in the cornfield we see that several more buttons on his shirt have come unbuttoned but in the next scene where he is being rushed through the hospital, only the top button of his shirt is unbuttoned.

During the final scene as the sister is chased out of the house you can clearly see that is a fall day. The next scene (after the mother returns) you can see snow falling as the cops arrive. The scene after that shows a fall day while the safe is being dumped.

Grandma Lynn drives Lindsey by Mr. Harvey's house and there is snow covering the ground. Next scene Lindsey is jogging by with her teammates and gets a cramp just before breaking into Mr. Harvey's house, there isn't any snow on the ground, just leaves. Then next scene she shows the scrapbook/evidence to Grandma Lynn and when the police go to Mr. Harvey's house there is snow covering the ground again.

In Susie's photo album that her father flips through, there is a picture of a Smurf figurine at the top of the right page. While Smurf figures were around in the 70s, that particular Smurf (a singing "rocker" Smurf with a microphone) wasn't released until the late 1990s.

By middle June 1973, The Partridge Family was seen on Saturday nights at 8PM. The 8:30PM Friday night time slot only lasted from 25 September 1970 until 8 June 1973.

Early in the movie (prior to Susie's murder), Abigail is seen reading several paperback books (including Herman Hesse's "Steppenwolf" and "Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care") that have bar codes on the back. Bar codes for products were not in use until 1974, one year after the murder occurs, and were not commonly used in most stores until the late 1970s.

Vietnamese immigration was limited to families of servicemen prior to 1975, however, there are almost no details given about Holly's character; there is evidence to contradict that she had a serviceman parent as she does not have an Anglo family name.

Susie is killed the 6th of December. In Pennsylvania, by December there would be little to no foliage left on the trees by then, yet when the detectives go from home to home, you see full trees and some with autumn leaves-more like a day from early October.

When Abigail Salmon returns home from California her hair is cut short but the next scene she is in she has long hair again. The final scene Abigail Salmon is in, her hair is cut short again.

When Susie is driving the family's Mustang to the hospital, the right front tire is missing the hubcap before it actually shows the hubcap detach from the wheel a few moments later.

When Abigail and Richard are in bed, we see that Abigail is reading Exile and the Kingdom by Albert Camus. As Richard begins to kiss her, she is seen reaching toward the nightstand to place the book on top of a pile of other books, including Siddhartha by Herman Hesse. In doing so, she accidentally knocks both books to the floor, but in the next shot, as she reaches over to turn the lamp off, Siddhartha has reappeared on top of the pile of books on the nightstand.

Errors in Geography
When Susan meets Ray and opens her locker we see the imprint "Fairfax Public Schools." Later in the movie she identifies her location as Norristown Pennsylvania. Later when George Harvey is looking at a scrapbook there are numerous references to Fairfax Virginia printed in the newspaper articles.

Errors in Geography
Just for the record, there is also a Fairfax HS in Los Angeles, California, which would make the Vacaville reference make more sense. That still leaves the question of the changing leaves and snow on the ground, but Fairfax VA is not the only town by that name with a high school.

Factual Mistake
Susie says, "I was murdered on the 6th of December 1973." The 6th of December was a Thursday in 1973. When the detectives go to question George Harvey, they ask him where he was last Wednesday. His whereabouts aren't important on that day because Susie was murdered on a Thursday.

Factual Mistake
When Jack Salmon is lying in the hospital bed we see a ventilator operating, yet Jack is not intubated and is in fact only wearing a simple free flow O2 mask. The ventilator would not operate without positive pressure to act against.
George Harvey's death was originally left to the imagination after he fell off the cliff. Numerous test audiences wanted to see a more brutal ending for the character so a last minute re-shoot was added, which shows him violently tumbling down the cliff side.

Many of the details and sequence of events in the movie differ from Alice Sebold's critically acclaimed, best-selling novel. In the novel, George Harvey dismembers Susie's body and disposes of it by dropping the safe in the sinkhole immediately after the murder (instead of much later, as in the movie). But George accidentally drops her elbow, which once found by the police, forces the Salmon family to acknowledge her death earlier than in the movie.

Peter Jackson's son, Billy can be seen shopping at the record store in the mall.

The director, Peter Jackson makes a cameo appearance in this movie as the man with the movie camera in the pharmacy, when Jack Salmon picks up the prints from the first roll of Susie's film.

Saoirse Ronan landed the role of Susie Salmon based on an audition tape she had sent in. They were so impressed by the tape that no meetings or further auditions were necessary before offering her the lead role in the film.

Abigail's major story line from the book - her affair with the detective and her reasons for leaving the family - was filmed but cut out of the movie.

Rose McIver, who plays Lindsey (the younger sister of Saoirse Ronan's character Susie Salmon) - is in real life 6 years older than Ronan.

There is a poster advertising J.R.R. Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" books at the bookstore. The director Peter Jackson's previous movies were, of course, the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Alice Sebold, who wrote the novel, said that she preferred an unknown actress for the role of Susie Salmon. After she was cast for this film, the relatively unknown Saoirse Ronan was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for Atonement (2007).

Helen Hunt was reportedly considered for the role of Abigail Salmon. Instead, Rachel Weisz accepted the role, and was the first actor cast in the film.

Mark Wahlberg replaced Ryan Gosling just days before shooting began. In preparation for the role, Gosling had gained 20 pounds and grew out a beard. However, he vacated the role due to creative differences. Wahlberg, who had just completed shooting The Happening (2008), another production in Pennsylvania, became available just in time to accept Gosling's role.

Peter Jackson tried to secure the rights to the book while working on The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) but at that time, the rights were snapped up by a British studio (ITV) with an option to make a film. However, since it was never made, the rights lapsed. During production of King Kong (2005), co-producer Tessa Ross found out that the rights had become available and she and Jackson secured them.

Despite being a last-minute replacement, Mark Wahlberg was always one of Peter Jackson's first choices for the leading role.

The end credits take up 15 minutes of the film's running time.

Along with Up in the Air (2009), this was one of the two films on which Paramount used its remaining marketing budget of 2009 to promote for consideration for an Academy Award. This forced Paramount to postpone the release of its other major studio film, Shutter Island (2010), until February 2010.

The school that Susie attends is based on General Wayne Middle School in Malvern, Pennsylvania (now known as General Wayne Elementary School), which Alice Sebold attended in the 1970s.

The main reason 'Ryan Gosling' quit his role as Jack before filming started was that during read-through sessions with Peter Jackson and the rest of the cast he felt that, at 26, he was too young for the role. Jack was supposed to be in his late 30s. Despite repeated assurances from Jackson that he could portray Jack with proper makeup, Gosling insisted that, as a method actor, he would not be able to portray the character well enough and was finally let go. 'Mark Wahlberg' was brought in only one day before shooting started.

Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz were the first actors who got an offer to appear in the film, which would have been their second collaboration together (after The Fountain (2006)). However, while Weisz accepted her part, Jackman had to turn his down. Ryan Gosling was cast instead, although he would drop out as well, three days before the shooting started. Eventually, Mark Wahlberg got the part.

In Alice Sebold's original novel, a disturbing rape scene is recounted in great detail, an experience that Sebold herself had as a young woman. 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. Alice Sebold reportedly disagreed with this omission.

During the sequence when Jack repeatedly calls Fenerman with the names of possible suspects, one of the names is Frank Peretti (Jack actually spells the last name for Fenerman); Frank Peretti is a best-selling author of Christian supernatural thrillers.

For his role as George Harvey, Stanley Tucci had his skin lightened, his chest and arm hair dyed to match his blondish-brown comb-over wig, and wore false teeth to alter his jaw line. He also wore blue contact lenses and a lentil-filled fat suit to widen his girth. All topped off with square-frame eyeglasses, a fake mustache and sideburns. Since Tucci was uncomfortable playing a child molester, he wanted to alter his appearance for the role as much as possible.

In the school corridor scene Clarissa mentions to Susie that the name Othello sounds like a mint. Oddfellows are a popular brand of mint in Peter Jackson's home country of New Zealand.