The Lovely Bones | EW.com

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Saoirse Ronan, The Lovely Bones

STARRING Saoirse Ronan, Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz, Susan Sarandon
WRITTEN BY Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh
DIRECTED BY Peter Jackson

In the last decade, Peter Jackson has written, directed, and produced four of the most ambitious epics in film history: the Lord of the Rings trilogy, followed by King Kong. By 2005, he was ready for a change. ”One of the enjoyments you get from making movies is always being outside your comfort zone — it’s the flirting with danger that is most interesting,” he says. ”And I did feel I was settling into a pattern with these blockbuster-y effects films. It was time to try something different.”

That something turned out to be The Lovely Bones. Based on Alice Sebold’s 2002 best-seller, the $65 million movie stars Oscar nominee Saoirse Ronan (Atonement) as Susie Salmon, a 14-year-old girl in small-town Pennsylvania who is raped and murdered by a neighbor (Stanley Tucci) on her way home from school one day in 1973. From a heavenlike realm called the ”in between,” Susie watches as her father (Mark Wahlberg), mother (Rachel Weisz), grandmother (Susan Sarandon), and siblings grieve her death and attempt to find her killer. It’s a devastating premise — with the kind of emotional heft Jackson hasn’t explored on screen since 1994’s Heavenly Creatures. (As with that film, Bones has a strong fantasy element, this one rooted in the CGI-created ”in between.”) Yet the director and his longtime writing and producing partners Philippa Boyens and Fran Walsh were determined that Bones would deliver more than unspeakable tragedy. ”Like the book, you go through this incredible journey, and it’s heartbreaking,” says Boyens. ”But you’re left, in the end, with love. It is a love story for Susie’s family.”