A 14-year-old girl in suburban 1970's Pennsylvania is murdered by her neighbor. She tells the story from the place between Heaven and Earth, showing the lives of the people around her and how they have changed all while attempting to get someone to find her lost body. Written by
Mark Wahlberg replaced Ryan Gosling just one day before shooting began. In preparation for the role, Gosling had gained twenty pounds, and grown out a beard. However, he vacated the role because he felt he was too young to play the part. Wahlberg, who had just completed shooting The Happening (2008), another production in Pennsylvania, became available just in time to accept Gosling's role. See more »
The day that Susie is murdered is said as being December 6th, a Wednesday. In 1973, December 6th was a Thursday. The family is watching "The Partridge Family" and it is light outside. "The Partridge Family" was broadcast on Saturday nights at 8:00 Eastern (7:00 Central Time) and in December well after sunset. See more »
I remember being really small; too small to see over the edge of a table. There was a snow globe, and I remember the penguin who lived inside the globe. He was all alone in there, and I worried for him.
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In navigating the torrent of negativity to which this movie has been subjected, one thing to keep in mind is that it's an adaptation of a very widely read and popular book.
The book itself had a rather sunny disposition, which is ironic as it often was somewhat grislier in detail than the movie. That's because events can be described in words in a grisly way but still be part of an optimistic universe when you are reading -- it works. That doesn't quite happen when you actually see things with your eyes, film is much more literal (strange to say) that literature.
Considering the subject matter, the murder of a young girl, it's a bit unfair to go to the movie and expect to see the book come to life on the screen.
The problem in making the movie, as in any adaptation of magical realism concerning dark subjects, is how to capture the magic without having it jar too much with the realism. That was extremely difficult to do here considering how grim the subject is. So when Jackson uses special effects to invoke heaven, people tend to completely flip out, without really offering their own alternative about how that "should" have been done.
All this adds up to a book that perhaps shouldn't have been adapted for the screen at all. That said, I think the movie is quite a fine one, especially because of the magnificent performances of the two leads, Ronan and Tucci. Thanks to the sweet-faced and deeply affecting Ronan, you'll never forget Susie Salmon. The music is also just fantastic, not surprising as Brian Eno did it -- it's very disappointing that the soundtrack is not available, as it's beautiful and haunting.
I'd suggest seeing it and just let yourself decide if it's a worthwhile experience or not. I found it to be a very good try at adapting a book that by its nature is extremely hard to film. Actually the best way to go at it would be to watch the movie, then read the book, then try to figure out for yourself how you would have done it differently. I suspect that you'll gain a new appreciation for Jackson's movie if you do that.
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