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Welcome to Rose McIver Online, an exclusive and in-depth fansite for the talented actress Rose McIver. Serving fans since 2009, we are the longest running and most extensive fansite dedicated to Rose.

Rose is known for her roles in projects such as "Once Upon a Time", "Maddigan's Quest" and "Power Rangers R.P.M", and can currently be seen in the CW television show "iZombie" as the lead character Olivia 'Liv' Moore.

We aim to bring you all the latest news and images relating to Rose's acting career, and strive to remain 100% gossip-and-paparazzi-free. - Staff
Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category
Sara   /   Oct 17,2018   /   0 Comments

We have our first ‘Brampton’s Own’ review! Rick Bentley has reviewed the film for Norwalk Reflector, and his verdict is that the film is “a refreshing love story in a feature film world where this kind of sweetness isn’t always embraced.” He particularly praises Rose’s performance, stating “The secret weapon of ‘Brampton’s Own” is McIver, one of the most underrated performers working today”! We love to see Rose getting the recognition she deserves, and hopefully more people will be introduced to her talent with the release of the film later this week. ‘Brampton’s Own’ will be released in select theaters and digitally on October 19 (this Friday) – make sure you go see it if it’s showing in your area, or purchase your own copy online if it’s not!

Norwalk | It’s unusual outside the Hallmark and Lifetime cable channels to find a movie that embraces romance with intelligence. Too often, feature films start out with a romantic edge but either give way to deep psychological trauma or an overindulgence of sex.

“Brampton’s Own” never falls into those dark areas, but instead looks at love through the perspective of two likable people who should be together but must find a way to overcome a major obstacle. The script by writer/director Michael Doneger examines whether or not it’s possible for true love to be trumped by ambition.

The film looks at what happens when Dustin Kimmel (Alex Russell) faces the harsh reality that after 12 years of playing baseball at the minor league level, his chances of making it to the major leagues have become increasingly more fleeting. After another heartbreak, Kimmel decides to return to his small hometown of Brampton, where he was a sports hero.

He discovers that almost everyone he knows, including his mother (Jean Smart), have moved on with their own lives. His high school sweetheart, Rachel Kinley (Rose McIver), has made some monumental decisions that don’t include him. Kimmel faces a crossroad of whether it is his fate to continue to chase his baseball dream or shift his energies to winning back the heart of the woman he still loves.

The only way this kind of sweet romance can work is if the main players are so likable there’s an investment in what decisions they make. Both Russell and McIver prove up to the challenge, making the characters feel real.

The secret weapon of ‘Brampton’s Own” is McIver, one of the most underrated performers working today. Through her work on “iZombie,” she’s shown a chameleon-like ability to play anything from an old man to a magician. Here, McIver brings a sweetness and strength to Kinley.

At the heart is the romantic dance is the couple, but Doneger layers the film with other relationships, including the connection between a mother and her son. Smart finds a way to play a mom who has a great love for her son while also willing to be the voice of reason. Casting Smart was a smart move by Doneger.

Doneger’s writing gets a little scattered when the story shifts away from the star-crossed lovers. But when he brings the focus back to them, the story works. Doneger doesn’t give into the standard ways of thinking about love and the labors when it is lost. Doneger respects the audience enough to take some big chances.

“Brampton’s Own” is miles away from having the scope of a “Bull Durham,” but it is a refreshing love story in a feature film world where this kind of sweetness isn’t always embraced.

“Brampton’s Own” will be released theatrically in limited markets Friday but also will be available on digital platforms and through local cable providers.

Sara   /   Jul 18,2016   /   0 Comments

Source | The Complete Second Season of iZombie is now available on DVD – you can get your own copy here – and it all comes together in a 4-disc package with all 19 episodes and some extras. iZombie Season 2 is also apparently available on Blu-ray via the Warner Archive if that is something you’d prefer, but this review is covering the DVD version that we were provided with.

Here’s how Warner Bros. Home Entertainment describes the set:

Power up with your favorite brain food, and prepare for more fun and thrills! iZOMBIE stars Rose McIver as Olivia “Liv” Moore, a medical resident on the fast track to a perfect life … until she’s turned into a zombie. But Liv finds her calling — and an endless supply of food — working at the Seattle coroner’s office, helping to solve crimes with her “visions,” while her boss and sole confidante, Dr. Ravi Chakrabarti, works on a cure for her unthinkable condition. As season two begins, Liv’s ex-fiancé and love, Major, is reeling from recent events and the knowledge that Liv is a zombie. Meanwhile, Blaine — now human — struggles to maintain his zombie world; Clive searches for Blaine and suspects Major’s involvement in the Meat Cute massacre; and Ravi remains devoted to finding an antidote to the zombie virus. Unlikely alliances will be struck, relationships will be challenged and the line between good and evil will blur for both zombies and the fully living.

So, what did we think?

The Episodes: iZombie is one of those shows where I admit I don’t always get to watch every week — I’m often on a high after watching The Flash — but after I do, I usually love it. Rose McIver’s Liv is, of course, the main reason to watch, especially with the different reactions she has after ingesting brains. The rest of the supporting cast is flanked by some really good guest stars who weave in and out throughout the season. Some characters like Major go down dark paths, and other characters face new situations and unfamiliar territory.

Season 2 even gives us a look at zombies who aren’t as good looking as Liv Moore, and it’s all wrapped in a well-written, well-produced package. I like that the show mixes procedural elements with drama, danger, and comedy. It’s hard to balance, but they usually pull it off.

The Extras: And here is where this set, like the Season 1 iZombie DVD set, kind of fails. This show has producers and a cast who engage fans often, at conventions and on Twitter and other mediums. So why the heck are there no behind-the-scenes videos or commentaries? The 2015 Comic-Con panel extra is great, but I really wanted more.

Deleted scenes are also available for the episodes “Grumpy Old Liv,” “Love & Basketball,” “Abra Cadaver,” “Cape Town,” “Method Head,” “Fifty Shades of Grey Matter,” “The Whopper,” and “Dead Beat,” so there are at least some reasons to pick up the DVD set rather than just waiting for Netflix.

The Final Verdict: I’ve already said that I wish there were more extras, but I’m also very disappointed that Blu-ray wasn’t the regular release plan for this. At least there, we could get a visual experience unlike anything we’d get on Netflix or watching on broadcast. Now, to be fair, I could go out and order that Blu-ray, but it’d be nicer if that had been the default thing to be available. Definitely worth getting if you love iZombie, and the episodes are absolutely worth seeing, even if you don’t bite the brain and pick up a set for yourself.

Sara   /   Apr 25,2016   /   0 Comments

[Source] A delicious second course.Warning: Full spoilers for iZombie: Season 2 follow.

Consistently offering clever, witty and fun episodes, iZombie solidified itself as one of the most entertaining series on TV in its second season. Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggiero-Wright had already created an offbeat yet inviting world in Season 1 and in Season 2 they built upon it, putting the characters into more intense and involving situations, all while still maintaining the show’s crucial, knowing sense of humor.

The cast continue to be one of the most likeable you’ll find, anchored by the excellent Rose McIver. Okay, it’s one of the show’s reaches that pretty much every brain Liv eats is a very focused, specific type of person, but that’s just part of the deal here. And it gives McIver so much to work with, as she goes all in playing Liv taking on personas as varied as a coach, a stalker, a costumed vigilante or a tough stripper. Every week, McIver is given something different to play and she consistently nails it, with ongoing mileage gotten out of how out there and uncharacteristic Liv gets, depending on her latest brain meal.

After his heartbroken ex-fiancé character take a surprising (and awesome) turn at the end of Season 1, Robert Buckley’s Major got a great storyline in Season 2, as he found himself working for Vaughn Du Clark (Steven Weber), tasked with assassinating zombies – all while actually locking them up instead, which put him in a very precarious position both with Du Clark and the cops and the FBI, who were getting closer and closer to him for his actions in both Season 1 and 2.

The fact that those investigating Major’s crimes were Clive (Malcolm Goodwin) and his FBI partner/love interest Dale Bozzio (Jessica Harmon) only increased the tension, even while Clive and Dale made a great pairing – with Harmon effortlessly fitting in on the show, as the somewhat goofy Dale provided a great foil for the somewhat stoic Clive. And in the midst of this, having Clive begin to slowly notice the things that were off about Liv was continually intriguing, since it was inevitable that Clive would one day find out The Secret.

Blaine (David Anders) in the meantime had to adjust to life as a human again – for awhile at least, as he never kept his nose clean and eventually became one of the undead again, with Anders always bringing a wonderfully quirky/funny approach to the character.

McIver and Rahul Kohli continued to be a delightful duo in all the scenes between Liv and Ravi and Kohli shined throughout the season, though I do hope Season 3 can perhaps give Ravi more of his own storyline at some points beyond the ongoing search for a cure or the burgeoning love triangle between Ravi, Peyton (Aly Michalka) and Blaine. The end of the season, as Ravi began to suspect Major was up to no good – and their big confrontation about it – showed how strong it can be to use the usually comic presence of Ravi in a dramatic manner that would be interesting to explore again.

As Season 2 progressed, one really strong element was how it began to bring together several storylines. We began to see Major’s growing interaction with Blaine begin to bring him even more in focus as a suspect for Dale and Clive, while Peyton’s return — it was good to see Michalka, who also fits in great with this cast, get more to do — had her wrapped up with Blaine (in more ways than one) and helping lead us to a new villain on the show, Stacey Boss (Eddie Jemison).

Best of all, the “brain of the week” storylines began to becoming increasingly tied into the main stories as well. And yes, this meant sometimes you had to accept a bit more coincidence on the show, but it still was exciting and gratifying to see how all the different elements were intersecting in different ways and how Liv could learn new info thanks to a new murder victim connected in ways that were sometimes not apparent on the surface.

It didn’t all quite gel and some plotlines seemed discarded at a certain point or didn’t quite pay off. The season began with so much drama involving Liv and her family, who then were barely mentioned at all as the months went on. And while he was talked about by many, Stacey Boss remained a bit too much in his own world at times, after making a compelling entrance. With both Du Clark, Blaine and Gilda (more on her below) already providing so much ongoing villainy, maybe Boss was one villain too many. I kept expecting him to more directly cross paths with others, notably Du Clark, but it rarely occurred. He remains in play for Season 3 though, so we’ll see where things go with him next time, but he was in a considerable amount of this season so it felt like it was aiming towards something bigger sooner.

Still, when it came to Big Bads, Vaughn Du Clark certainly delivered. Stephen Weber seemed to be having a ball in the role and was delightfully awful as the energetic, confident mega-douche of a sports drink company CEO. He was also given a great foil in Gilda (Leanne Lapp), his daughter, who was just as corrupt as her dad. Gilda has no qualms about manipulating Major, Liv or anyone else and Lapp brought just the right attitude to the character – even as we saw just how awful Du Clark was as a dad, giving us a tinge of sympathy, or at least understanding, about why she was the way she was, even as it was clear she needed to be stopped.

The season also ended in an epic, satisfying manner, with Clive finally finding out the truth, an all-out “Romero Zombie” attack and both Du Clark and Gilda being taken out – all while we met a huge new player on the scene that looks to be upending the show in a huge way.

The Verdict: Nearly every week, iZombie continued to deliver in its second season and the show easily overcame any sophomore slump worries. The creators and cast seem to know exactly the right (and tricky) tone to go for here, offering up a show that has a fun, accessible vibe but can get suitably intense, dramatic and gory when need be. When the CW gave all of their series early renewals this year, iZombie was one of the ones I know I was celebrating the most. Bring on Season 3!


Sara   /   Jul 08,2014   /   0 Comments

What’s the perfect number of flashbacks in a movie? one? two? surely three is pushing it? Not interested in determining this, Richard Gray’s Aussie Rules flick Blinder is instead hellbent on jamming as many flashbacks as it can into it’s excruciating run time as if that’s the most renowned of world records to beat, including so many it becomes a deceptively challenging (yet more rewarding than the film itself) game trying to count them all and keep up with whatever remnants of a narrative remain.

There have been very few movies made about Australia’s enormous national sport AFL (Australian Football League), and its beginning to appear that there is a good reason for that… the rules are hard enough to interpret for the umpires that adjudicate every week, so I can only imagine the confusion that would beset the hapless viewer whose introduction to the sport it this, especially considering how poorly shot, edited and staged the action sequences are, showcasing roughly 1% of what makes the game the greatest on earth (the 1% being the post-goal celebrations of Angus Sampson’s power forward Franky).

Suffice to say, Blinder does for AFL what The Blind Side and Field of Dreams do for AFL; absolutely nothing. In fact, considering it focuses solely on the country league, in particular the Torquay Tigers, and the drunken bogans with IQ’s smaller than the release this film was granted that make up the playing group paired with the unfortunate girl groupies they manage to entice, it shouldn’t even really be granted the connection. I suppose at it’s cold, cold heart its a drama anyway; a moralistic tale of forgiveness, redemption, friendships, new beginnings and not taking advantage of 15 year old girls… moving stuff… you’ll be holding back the tears, albeit tears of laughter.

Summer Coda (2010) was airy and emotionally unbelievable, yet enjoyable enough and always pleasant to look at, but compared to what Gray would do 3 years later it is a contextually deep, resonating Academy Award sweeping masterpiece comparable only to the finest works of art that belong at the Louvre alone. I won’t lie, I enjoyed playing the “flashbacks game,” (I’ll give you a hint as obvious as the plot twists, the transitioning to black and white means its going back in time.. or forward… actually I forget) but when what I wanted was some footy fun and was instead given a story of a tremendous dropkick unfathomably viewed as a local hero in which the footy scenes are horrendously tackled, seeing a world record broken was of little comfort.(Source)

Sara   /   Jan 31,2014   /   0 Comments

He’s in Love, but No Closer to Figuring It Out
‘Brightest Star,’ a Story About 20-Something Relationships

Young people’s romantic relationships may be more vaguely defined than they were in the days of chaperones and ritualistic courtship, but that doesn’t mean that movies about those relationships are well served by being vague. “Brightest Star,” an uninvolving film by Maggie Kiley, gives us a story of love among 20-somethings without telling us enough about the main characters to indicate why we should care about their perfectly ordinary entanglements.

The film focuses on a young man (Chris Lowell, of the new sitcom “Enlisted”) who becomes love-struck when he lays eyes on a fellow college student, Charlotte (Rose McIver). What’s the attraction, other than her good looks? We don’t know, because Charlotte isn’t on screen long enough for us to learn much about her. The two converse in vacuous snippets (“If we were a color, what color would we be?”), and even those are fairly sparse, since large chunks of time must be devoted to watching Mr. Lowell’s character be morose for no apparent reason.

Anyway, Charlotte eventually ends their relationship, and Our Hero instead falls into one with Lita (Jessica Szohr), while continuing to pine for Charlotte. Besides his inexplicable ability to attract pretty women, he defies all trends for this demographic group by being able to land jobs effortlessly, whether as a sandwich maker or as a junior executive. Allegories involving astronomy, baseball and sandwiches are hinted at but are no better developed than the characters. (source)

Sara   /   Jan 30,2014   /   0 Comments

This modestly scaled drama has a shot at a brighter future than most under-the-radar indies.

Maggie Kiley’s first feature, “Brightest Star,” has all the trappings of a contemporary romantic comedy, but also the good sense to strive for a deeper examination of a young man’s search for his place in the universe. Expanded from Kiley’s 2009 short, “Some Boys Don’t Leave,” which starred Jesse Eisenberg, the full-length pic toplining smallscreen star Chris Lowell (“Veronica Mars,” “Enlisted”) premiered at the 2013 Austin Film Festival under the title “Light Years.” It’s a modestly scaled drama that’s a solid fit for day-and-date VOD and limited theatrical release, with a shot at a brighter future than most under-the-radar indies.

Opening with a young man (Lowell) passed out on the floor of an apartment, abandoned by his ex-girlfriend, Charlotte (Rose McIver), the storyline unfolds along two timelines. In the past, the pic tracks his pursuit of dream girl Charlotte, which begins in a college astronomy class and ultimately fizzles when she tires of his slacker tendencies. In the present, the young man starts dating the apartment’s new tenant, a hipster songstress (Jessica Szohr) whose businessman father (Clark Gregg) provides him with a cushy management job just to keep his daughter happy. Past and present collide when the young man uses his new position to reconnect with Charlotte.

In a way, “Brightest Star” mines some of the same road-to-adulthood territory as Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig did in “Frances Ha,” but with the gender reversal of a female filmmaker and male protagonist. The balanced point of view (Kiley collaborated on the script with Matthew Mullen) lends the work a fresher perspective than that of a typical sad-sack dude drama, although Kiley falls notably short when it comes to fleshing out supporting characters and illuminating the specifics of the world they inhabit.

The best example of the film’s at times frustratingly vague approach is that Lowell’s main character never merits a name (end credits simply call him “the Boy”). Fortunately, Lowell’s considerable charm goes a long way toward filling in the gaps and the story’s emphasis on self-discovery over romantic couplings supplies enough interest to sustain the brisk 80-minute running time.

It also helps that Kiley observes her characters with a consistently non-judgmental eye. Pic’s portrait of courtship veers toward the cutesy (bonding over baseball teams and mac ‘n’ cheese) and the dual love interests would benefit from sharper writing, but McIver at least hints at the more complicated woman lurking beneath the surface of her boyfriend’s blind affection. A late-arriving Allison Janney practically walks off with the movie as an astronomer who gently nudges the hero to face his problems rather than run from them.

Tech package is straightforward, though d.p. Chayse Irvin does a respectable job differentiating the visual motifs of various timelines. Soundtrack blends predictably angsty indie rock with trendier electronic pop tracks. (source)

Sara   /   Aug 31,2010   /   0 Comments

Predicament is set in a small South Taranaki town in the 1930s. The place might not be exactly author Ronald Hugh Morrieson’s native Hawera, but it was probably close enough to enrage more than a few locals.

Morrieson wrote about a town where every local was hiding a secret, where the local cops were quite probably on the take, and the landed gentry were just as big a ratbag as the motliest of the town drunks.

Into this surreal Kiwi demi- monde, Morrieson inserted a tale of lechery, blackmail, murder and general scumbaggery of the highest order.

Predicament was the last of Morrieson’s novels to be written, after The Scarecrow, Came a Hot Friday, and Pallet on The Floor, and now it is the last to be filmed.

Director Jason Stutter’s film does a pretty good job of recreating the look and the events of Morrieson’s book.

The actions, words and places are more or less faithful, while the production values, especially Simon Raby’s cinematography, are exceptional.

Unfortunately, getting a film to look right is only half the battle. I came away from seeing Predicament struck by the feeling that Stutter is just too nice a guy to have done this story justice.

Predicament misses completely the alcoholism, the self-loathing and the loneliness that drove Morrieson’s pen, and so misses the venality and scabrous philosophies that he set in the hearts of his characters Toebeck, Fox and Spook. And without that, Predicament is adrift.

The film plays out like a situation comedy, or a small-town farce, but the material is too bleak and perverse to come alive when treated that way.

Jemaine Clement’s Spook provides some genuine laughs, but Aussie Heath Franklin, as the villainous Toebeck, delivers his lines with a barely coherent robotic mumble that suggests he had no love or understanding at all for Morrieson’s beautiful, sinuous, blokey prose.

As a comedy, there are some worthwhile moments, and Stutter’s timing of a gag or a stunt is as accurate as ever, but – and this is tough for me to write, given that the director is someone I think of as a friend – poor casting, and some underwhelming performances, kill any rhythm or tension in Predicament stone dead. (Source)

Sara   /   Aug 26,2010   /   0 Comments

Rating: 3/5
Verdict: Tepid fourth adaptation of much-filmed local yarn-spinner

The stories of Ronald Hugh Morrieson helped New Zealand film get up to speed in the 1980s. Of the four novels he wrote in the previous decades, three hit the big screen in quick succession – The Scarecrow and Came a Hot Friday were local hits in 82 and 84, while Pallet on the Floor in 86 went largely unloved.

That Predicament has never made it to the screen indicates its cinematic potential wasn’t great.

Unfortunately, the long-awaited result rather confirms this. It’s likeable enough around the edges for its attempted recreation of Morrieson’s world of 1930s South Taranaki and the amusing scene-stealing performance of Jemaine Clement as the helium-voiced “Spook”, one of the various scoundrels involved in its plot of small-town blackmail, murder and madness.

But it’s a film of listless energy, and unsteady performances – especially Australian comedian Heath Franklin, who, as head scoundrel Mervyn Toebeck, can’t quite cope with verbosity of Morrieson’s character.

Director Jason Stutter doesn’t lack for visual style – think the Coen brothers’ Miller’s Crossing or Barton Fink turning up in Hawera (an area where it seems the locals huddle around coal ranges even though it’s Christmas).

But Stutter seems less in command of his cast. While Franklin’s duplicitous Mervyn isn’t convincing, young Hayden Frost as Cedric Williamson, the meek innocent dragged into his new best friend’s blackmail scheme, can’t quite make his presence felt either.

So it becomes the sort of film where the ratbag lead characters just aren’t charming enough to engage the sympathies. And the lethal quandary they find themselves in after blackmailing the various local adulterers comes with no real sense of peril.

A subplot involving Cedric’s mute, presumably mad, father Martin (Tim Finn in Monty Python mode) offers some sideline amusement. The tower of scrap he’s constructing in the frontyard of their dilapidated mansion is something to see, even if it looks like its builder will burst into Six Months in a Leaky Boat from its crow’s nest any minute.

But just as that tower is a creaky and overly ambitious so, too, is the film. It’s fitfully entertaining and at least it completes the Morrieson box set. But that’s all.(source)

Sara   /   Feb 19,2010   /   0 Comments

The Lovely Bones, Peter Jackson’s adaptation of Alice Sebold’s surprising best seller, is at least five films in one and therefore the perfect film for these credit crunch times. Over its 135 minute running time — it carries this load lightly — Jackson manages to squeeze in a touching teen romance, a gripping portrait of a serial killer, a family falling apart drama, an expressionistic after-life fantasy, a police procedural flick and, in one gripping set-piece, a fantastic retread of Rear Window. Jackson may not keep all these multiple plates spinning successfully, but this is bold, daring original filmmaking, with arguably more emotional and intellectual meat to chew on than either the Rings trilogy or Kong.

The Lovely Bones, both book and film, opens with a close-up image of a snowman trapped in a snow globe. The image reverberates around the entire movie. From Susie Salmon sitting on her heavenly gazebo narrating her own life following her brutal murder, to her father Jack (Wahlberg, good hair) building intricate model ships inside delicate bottles to her mother Abigail (Weisz) keeping Susie’s room in pristine untouched condition to her killer George Harvey (a terrific, meticulous, barely recognisable Tucci) carefully tending to his miniature doll house, these are characters looking to build ideal worlds but who eventually become ensnared by them, unable to move on, tethered by their pain. If this makes Lovely Bones sound like a draining downer, it shouldn’t: it is poignant, gripping, emotionally alive (but never sentimental) and gorgeous. All this from the man who brought you Meet The Feebles.

With its heady teen protagonist and themes of murder intertwined with the fantastical, on paper this felt like Jackson returning to the intimate, small-scale milieu of Heavenly Creatures (the fascination with the afterlife connecting with the real world also touches base with Jackson’s forgotten flick The Frighteners). Eschewing Sebold’s almost comic vision of the afterlife as a kitsch heavenly high school, Jackson’s vision of “the in-between”, a holding pen between Earth and Heaven, is a cornucopia of digitally enhanced vistas, flower iconography, quickly shifting landscapes and startling memorable images: a horrific bathroom vignette, a fleet of ships in bottles bobbing on a sea, a gazebo planted firmly in the middle of a midnight lake with the moon as a clock. Occasionally it strays deep into Rainbow Brite territory but perhaps that’s the point. Accompanied by Brian Eno’s lovely ambient noodlings, this is Jackson seeing and feeling purgatory through a 14 year-old’s subconscious, a 48 year-old man fluent in the language of ‘70s tween dreams.

But the best stuff doesn’t have a single pixel in it, meaning the afterlife segments eventually feel like stop-gaps. A heart-stopping piece of detective work by Susie’s sister Lindsay (Rose McIver who grows in stature throughout the film) is brilliant suspense cinema. The first half an hour is terrific stuff, sketching Susie’s life — all Partridge Family posters, Snoopy pendants and dreams of being a photographer — in the warm, faded tones of a ‘70s photograph. There is a lovely discussion between Susie and her boozy grandmother — Susan Sarandon in comic relief mode — about the thrill of first kisses and Susie’s subsequent crush on English hunk Ray is movingly etched, further enhancing the heartbreak of her life cut short. Saoirse Ronan may be the nemesis of spell check but she is emerging as a Jodie Foster for the noughties, making Susie spirited, smart, intense and adorable.

Sebold purists may carp that Jackson soft peddles the pivotal act of murder but, while he is not graphic, Jackson nails the emotional violence through both Harvey’s quiet insistence and telling images of creepy antique toys. Despite strong performances and moments from Wahlberg and Weisz, the movie doesn’t do full justice to the crumbling relationship of Susie’s parents — it occasionally feels glossed over, hinting at things but never paying them off. If that means there is a Director’s Cut on the way, then all the better. Spending more time in Susie Salmon’s sometimes harrowing, sometimes beautiful, always compelling world is something to rejoice in.(source)

Sara   /   Dec 10,2009   /   0 Comments

We all like children, and — at least in our capacity as moviegoers, book-club members and consumers of true-life melodrama — we seem to like them best when they’re abused, endangered or dead. Nothing else is quite so potent a symbol of violated innocence, a spur to pious sentiment or a goad to revenge as a child in peril. This is hardly news (Charles Dickens made a nice living trafficking in the suffering of minors), but for some reason the past decade has seen an epidemic of cinematic and literary crimes against the young.

“The Lovely Bones,” Alice Sebold’s 2002 best seller, now a film directed by Peter Jackson, stands out as a singularly bold and complex treatment of this grim and apparently inexhaustible theme. In spite of the horrific act at the center of the story — the rape, murder and dismemberment of a 14-year-old girl — the novel is not depressing or assaultive but rather, somewhat perversely, warm, hopeful and even occasionally funny.

Ms. Sebold pushes the dead-child narrative to an emotional extreme, and at the same time undermines its exploitive tendencies, by means of a simple and radical formal device. She makes the victim, a daughter of ’70s suburbia named Susie Salmon (“like the fish”), an omniscient, beyond-the-grave narrator, with a lively voice and a comfortable perch in the afterlife from which to survey the doings of her family, her friends and the neighbor who killed her. The novel is conceived with enough audacity to make this gimmick intriguing, and executed with enough art to make it effective.

Mr. Jackson’s film, from a script he wrote with Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, his frequent collaborators, shows less audacity and too much art. Susie’s unearthly home, in the book a minimally sketched, nondenominational purgatory where the dead loiter on their way to heaven and keep tabs on unfinished business down on earth, has been expanded into a digitally rendered Wonderland of rioting metaphors, crystal seas and floating topiary. It’s a mid-’70s art-rock album cover brought to life (and complemented by a score composed by the ’70s art-rock fixture Brian Eno), and while its trippy vistas are sometimes ravishing, they are also distracting. “Heaven,” a Talking Heads song once pointed out, is “a place where nothing ever happens.”

Accordingly Mr. Jackson’s interest in the “in-between,” as this suburb of heaven is called, is primarily visual. The drama is all down below, where the surviving members of the Salmon family contend with the loss of their eldest child. Susie’s sister, Lindsey, is played by Rose McIver; her brother, Buckley, by Christian Thomas Ashdale, while George Harvey (Stanley Tucci), the reclusive, seething killer, prunes his rosebushes and decorates dollhouses. By all appearances he has gotten away with his crime, and Susie hovers in the in-between partly in the hope that she might find a way to bring him to justice.

She is, in any case, obsessed with the lives that go on without her, in particular with the ways her siblings and friends and father (Mark Wahlberg, agonized) and mother (Rachel Weisz, narcotized) deal with losing her, something the audience never has to endure. We are always in Susie’s company, soothed by her voice-over narration and tickled by her coltish high spirits. This puts a curious distance between us and most of the characters in the film — it makes us, in effect, Susie’s fellow ghosts — a detachment that Mr. Jackson’s stylish, busy technique makes more acute. His young heroine, played with unnerving self-assurance and winning vivacity by Saoirse Ronan, cares desperately about the poor living souls left in her wake, but it is not clear that Mr. Jackson shares her concern.

Yes, he grooves on the wild color schemes and peculiar fashions of 1973. (Richard Kelly had a similar field day with 1976-vintage patterned wallpaper and fat neckties in “The Box,” his recent entry in the suburban-’70s-supernatural sweepstakes.) And this director’s fondness for odd angles, intense close-ups and trick perspectives — he films one scene as if peering out from the rooms of a dollhouse — animates a drab Pennsylvania landscape of shopping malls and half-developed farmland. As a pictorial artifact “The Lovely Bones” is gorgeous. It pulses and blooms and swells with bright hues and strange vistas.

But it does not move. Or, rather, as it skitters and lurches from set piece to the next, papering the gaps with swirls of montage, it never achieves the delicate emotional coherence that would bring the story alive. My point is not that Mr. Jackson and his fellow screenwriters have taken undue liberties with the book, a complaint that some other critics have made. On the contrary, the problem with this “Lovely Bones” is that it dithers over hard choices, unsure of which aspects of Ms. Sebold’s densely populated, intricately themed novel should be emphasized and which might be winnowed or condensed.

The filmmakers’ evident affection for the book expresses itself as a desperate scramble to include as much of it as possible, which leaves the movie feeling both overcrowded and thin. The anguish in the Salmon household is dutifully observed: dad smashes his collection of model ships, mom withdraws and then flees to California, and in the middle of it grandma arrives, a brassy boozer played by Susan Sarandon. But there is a puppet-show quality to their grief, and also to the puzzlement of the detective (Michael Imperioli) investigating Susie’s death and the sorrow of her schoolmates, Ruth (Carolyn Dando) and Ray (Reece Ritchie), the object of Susie’s first and last major crush.

The title of “The Lovely Bones” refers to the relationships among these people that knit together in Susie’s absence. In Mr. Jackson’s version, though, they are hastily and haphazardly assembled, so that nothing quite fits together. The movie is a serial-killer mystery, a teenage melodrama, a domestic tragedy and a candy-hued ghost story — a cinematic version of the old parlor game in which disparate graphic elements are assembled into a single strange picture. It’s sometimes called Exquisite Corpse. (source)