This supernatural crime drama set in the 1970’s was brought to the big screen by Peter Jackson in 2009. Based on the award-winning novel by Alice Sebold which was published 7 years before this movie had to face high expectations.
Susie Salmon is your average teenage girl. She deals with her first love, annoying siblings, parents who don’t understand her. But soon something very unusual is about to happen to Susie. She is murdered. While her family has a hard time coping with her death her dad continues to try to find her murderer. In the mean time Susie is captured in some kind of intermediate world. There she meets other girls who were murdered by the same man who killed her. One of the girls urges her to let go of her family and the world she had to leave. It’s the only way for her to move on the heaven. After some time Susie realises that her hatred inflicts the lives of the ones she left behind. She makes her peace and moves on. Her father and sister finally find out who killed Susie and get to make their peace as well.
I haven’t read the book yet so I had no idea what to expect when I watched to movie. First of all let me praise the choice of actors. The crème de la crème was hired for this movie. From Mark Wahlberg and Rachel Weisz as parents to Saiorse Ronan as Susie and Stanley Tucci as their neighbor – every role was filled with a top actor (Susan Sarandon as grandma was just gorgeous). But unfortunately they couldn’t really use their potential. Saiorse Ronan seems capable of so much more than the movie allows her to show and many of the other characters have to remain pale as well. What Peter Jackson created is a movie full of impressive images with great colors and a lot of atmosphere. But that’s all. For me the movie lacks depth. Especially the scenes of Susie afterlife are nothing but pretty. They don’t seem to serve any purpose but to show off some computer effects. These scenes seemed to be dragging on without really meaning anything. I feel like 95 percent of them could have been left out. The scene in the real world however don’t produce enough emotion. The feelings shown just don’t go under your skin. Furthermore, the rather comic scenes with Susan Sarandon – as great as she did her job – were just unnecessary. The felt absolutely forced and the fun to relieve the tight atmosphere was not needed. In fact it would have been by far better if Peter Jackson had cut down on such scenes. The movie is 135 minutes long and that shows. I caught myself wondering several times how long it takes until it is finally over. There are so many boring scenes that are nothing but pretty images. Had there been enough depth in the other scenes, it might have weighed out the lightness but as it is it doesn’t work.