The movie distills the novel down to two core components from the novel: Susie's (Saorise Ronan) connection with her father (Wahlberg), as he grieves her death and obsessively tries to solve her murder; and her sister (Rose McIver), Lindsey's hunt to find evidence against Mr. Harvey (Tucci) when she's convinced over time he's responsible. It makes sense in a way to really hone in on these two pieces of the story, as they provide the most tension and suspense. However, while watching the film I found a great deal had been spliced out, things that provide a fuller context to things that occur late in the story, particularly among the tertiary characters.
While the film touches on Susie's mother (Rachel Weisz) abandoning the family to seek solace on her own abroad, it's so thinly discussed that she becomes an even less sympathetic character than in the novel. The film makes no mention of her brief affair with the lead detective in the murder, Len Fenerman (Michael Imperioli), which is part of the rising tension within the family after Susie's death. And Jack Salmon's interactions with the mother of the boy Susie had a crush on, a rather integral part to his story, is completely omitted.
And while there is a passing acknowledgment of Ruth Connors (Carolyn Dando) and her seemingly paranormal awareness of Susie within the film, she's very inconsequential in the film and used as little more than a momentary plot device. Anyone who has read the book, knows what I'm talking about there.
It's near impossible to pack a whole novel into two hours of movie, but I can't help but feel The Lovely Bones was rushed. It seemed at points that Jackson, and executive producer Steven Spielberg, were more content with dazzling audiences with the special effects used for Susie's ethereal limbo world--a place that really felt artificial to a point that I kept getting sucked out of the story, visualizing Saorise Ronan running around a giant green screen.
Winner: THE BOOK. I enjoyed the movie to an extent, thanks in large part to Tucci's cringe-worthy performance of that creepy neighbor with a sordid past, as well as Rose McIver's scene stealing moments as Susie's sister. But it's a heavily flawed film and does little justice to the rich subject matter offered by Sebold's novel. This was one of those times when a trailer can be accused of false advertising, because I got setup for a big letdown by watching it. I'm sure others who saw this movie were as well.