There's a very effective, Hitchcock-like moment in The Lovely Bones, involving a creaky floorboard, a desperate sister and a serial killer. Watching it, I was not only reminding myself that I already knew the outcome, I was also admiring Hitch's definition of suspense, and director Peter Jackson's willingness to wring every last drop from the scene.
But please OMG, don't hope for anything else from this dreadful, bungled movie.
Alice Sebold's novel may not be great literature, but her description of how a family reacts to the death of one of its members was, for me, utterly convincing, and I've been in the situation. It's terribly hackneyed to claim the film wasn't as good as the book, but all film adaptations are better than this one. It failed not only to capture the narrator, who without spoiling is a murdered girl. It also failed to capture the father, who goes a bit nuts; the mother, who bolts; the sister, who becomes an avenging angel; the brother, who doesn't understand anything, until he does; and the detective, played by Michael Imperioli from The Sopranos, and getting less to do than if he were the guest on an episode of Extras.
Oh yeah, and it fails to develop the Indian boy, the clairvoyant girl, the Indian boy's mother -- all of whom were characters in the book, all well-developed.
How could a film miss so much? Partly it's in the nature of film, as we all know. That doesn't excuse why things went so wrong. Maybe Peter Jackson is just a crap director. He's famous for Lord of the Rings and King Kong. Maybe he's out of his depth when doing things on a human scale.