After watching Peter Jackson’s adaptation quite some time ago I finally found the time to check out the book. So far I had heard nothing but praise for Alice Sebold’s novel, so I was excited to find out whether it really is that good…
14-year old Susie Salmon has a wonderful life until one day the unspeakable happens. Susie is murdered. Alice Sebold tells the story from Susie’s point of view. She watches from heaven as her family struggles to carry on with their lives and also while her killer sets out again…
Let me begin with Alice Sebold’s novel. When I began to read I was immediately pulled in. The story is fascinating and terrifying. I have to admit there were tears in my eyes a few times. The most heart breaking part is how relatable every aspect is. Susie is your average teenage girl, when she’s killed it really could have been anybody you know.
But – there always has to be a “but” right? – about 2/3 through the book it lost its grip. At that point we are busy following everybody’s life many years after Susie died and many of those lives are so very boring, uninspired and filled with clichés. All of sudden there was nothing fascinating or thrilling about the story. To be honest the last 1/3 seemed to drag on for far longer the rest of the book. It would have been much better just simply let the novel end at some earlier point!
So, let’s move on to the adaptation. I’m going to make it simple: the film is a huge let-down. While Peter Jackson usually delivers on point, and additionally we get nothing but Hollywood’s finest actors, the movie is nothing but pretty pictures. None of the actors get to show their full potential and the story on-screen has no depth at all. The scenes about Susie’s heaven seem to be there for nothing but showing off CGI effects. There is actually nothing there to even justify the existence of those scenes. The moments we spend with Susie’s family on the other hand fail to produce emotion. While the book was really intense, the movie doesn’t go under your skin at all. Combined with Susan Sarandon’s rather comic scenes the atmosphere was completely destroyed.
On top of that the movie is far too long. With more than 2 hours to watch I caught myself several times wondering when it’ll finally be over.
Summing up, the novel is definitely better than the adaptation. The movie is nothing but pretty pictures and really not worth the time. Although Alice Sebold’s book is more intense, I would have expected more after I read so many positive reviews.
Did you read the book? Watch the movie? Let me know in the comments what you think!