I feel bad for Peter Jackson. His film was generally panned by critics after its release, but I’m sure beneath the overwrought CGI effects, the slightly annoying narration, and the errors in characterization lies a beautiful film. If only it were edited more thoroughly, or if it were written better. I read the book years ago and I don’t remember ever cringing when Susie Salmon begins yearning for a kiss from her crush in the afterlife. Really: you get brutally raped and murdered at the age of 14, and you can only think of a kiss? Really. Maybe Alice Sebold’s engaged writing just made this fervent wish believable, and human. In the film, Susie just appears stupid and shallow.
I wouldn’t say this was a bad film. I did finish it, all two hours of it, and there were scenes that I genuinely loved. I loved the cinematography. The musical score. And there’s good acting all around. The pace felt slow at first, even lazy, but I got the hang of it easily enough.(I just really hated that part where Ray and Susie talk by the lockers, and almost kiss – that was too fast, Mr. Jackson. Remember build-up? It’s a good thing. And between Susie and Ray, I didn’t feel the chemistry at all.)
The fact is: no matter how many the errors, this film will still be heartbreaking due to its subject matter.
But yes, this could have been a much, much better film.