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From book to film: How does "The Lovely Bones" fare?

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Just based on subject matter, "The Lovely Bones" (Alice Sebold's 2002 novel about the rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl who goes on to watch her family and friends from "beyond") always seemed an unlikely candidate for a bestseller. But bestseller it was and now director Peter Jackson has taken on the challenge of turning that tale into a mainstream movie.

Does he succeed? Depends on who you ask. After last month's London premiere, the Guardian damned the film with faint praise and a two-star review, allowing at best that, "It's not that 'The Lovely Bones' is a bad movie, exactly." Reviewer Xan Brooks concedes that, "It is handsomely made and strongly acted" with a "woozy, lullaby ambience."

However, Brooks also goes on to accuse Jackson of a lack of courage. He writes that, while "Sebold's novel was not scared to look the central horror in the face ... [t]he screen version, by contrast, is so infuriatingly coy, and so desperate to preserve the modesty of its soulful victim that it amounts to an ongoing clean-up operation."


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