Updated On: March 07, 2024 by   Esraa Mahmoud   Esraa Mahmoud  

Lovely Bones

The Lovely Bones (2009): A Look at Peter Jackson’s Visual Feast!

Imagine staring down the barrel of eternity, forever 14, forever trapped between life and death. This is the haunting reality of Susie Salmon, the protagonist of Peter Jackson’s 2009 film The Lovely Bones. Violently ripped from her idyllic childhood, Susie witnesses her life shatter as she becomes an unseen observer – a ghost amidst the […]



Imagine staring down the barrel of eternity, forever 14, forever trapped between life and death. This is the haunting reality of Susie Salmon, the protagonist of Peter Jackson’s 2009 film The Lovely Bones. Violently ripped from her idyllic childhood, Susie witnesses her life shatter as she becomes an unseen observer – a ghost amidst the living.

Her story, adapted from Alice Sebold’s acclaimed novel, isn’t just a murder mystery; it’s a poignant exploration of loss, grief, and the unyielding spirit of a young girl yearning for justice. Join us as we delve into the world of The Lovely Bones, where innocence confronts brutality, and the afterlife becomes a crucible of unresolved emotions.

Prepare to be captivated by Saoirse Ronan’s ethereal portrayal of Susie, moved by the raw grief of her family and challenged by the film’s profound questions about life, death, and the thin line between vengeance and forgiveness. So, step into the cornfield, embrace the beauty and sorrow, and discover the secrets that lie beyond the veil in The Lovely Bones.

The Lovely Bones: Plot Summary

The Lovely Bones is based on the novel by Alice Sebold and tells the story of a murdered teenage girl named Susie Salmon.

Susie Salmon, a vibrant 14-year-old brimming with dreams of photography and first crushes, walks home through a seemingly harmless cornfield. Little does she know, this routine stroll becomes a chilling turning point, marking the brutal theft of her innocence and life. But even in the face of this unspeakable tragedy, death doesn’t silence Susie. Instead, she finds herself in a strange, liminal space – a personal heaven she calls “the in-between.”

Here, she witnesses the devastating ripple effects of her absence. Her loving family crumbles under the weight of grief. Her distraught mother, Abigail, desperately searches for answers, while her stoic father, Jack, becomes consumed by an unwavering quest for justice. Meanwhile, her younger sister, Buckley, grapples with a fractured childhood and the haunting awareness of an invisible sibling.

But Susie’s presence isn’t confined to mere observation. Trapped in this spectral existence, she experiences a unique blend of emotions – anger towards her killer, Mr Harvey, a seemingly ordinary neighbour harbouring a dark secret. She longs for vengeance, yearning to see him brought to justice. Yet, she’s also deeply connected to her family, their pain mirroring her own. This internal conflict becomes the central crux of the narrative, pushing Susie to navigate the complex terrain of grief, forgiveness, and the yearning for justice that transcends the boundaries of life and death.

Furthermore, Susie’s existence in the “in-between” offers a unique perspective on mortality. Unlike a traditional afterlife, this space reflects her emotional state, shifting and evolving as she processes her trauma. It’s a testament to the enduring power of human connection, highlighting how love and loss continue to shape us even after death.

Cast and Production

Directed by Peter Jackson, The Lovely Bones (2009) stars Saoirse Ronan, Mark Wahlberg, and Rachel Weisz, with the screenplay co-written by Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens.

Peter Jackson

Lovely Bones

Peter Jackson, the visionary behind The Lovely Bones, is more than just a director; he’s a cinematic architect. From humble beginnings making stop-motion shorts in his backyard to helming epic trilogies like The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, his passion for storytelling has transcended borders and genres. But it’s his meticulous attention to detail that truly sets him apart.

Jackson isn’t simply a director; he’s a writer, producer, and even a visual effects pioneer with his co-founded Weta Digital. This hands-on approach allows him to weave intricate narratives, be it the sweeping fantasy of Middle-earth or the intimate tragedy of The Lovely Bones, with stunning visuals and emotional depth. He’s not afraid to experiment, whether it’s pushing the boundaries of CGI or tackling challenging subject matter.

While known for his fantastical worlds, Jackson’s ability to ground human stories within them is what truly resonates. In The Lovely Bones, he masterfully navigates the delicate balance between Susie’s ethereal existence and the raw grief of her family, leaving viewers both heartbroken and hopeful. So, when you watch a Peter Jackson film, remember: you’re not just witnessing a story unfold; you’re experiencing the meticulous vision of a true cinematic legend.

Saoirse Ronan

Lovely Bones

Saoirse Ronan, more than just the ethereal spirit of Susie Salmon, has carved her own path in Hollywood. This Irish actress burst onto the scene at a young age, mesmerising audiences with her raw talent and emotional depth. Her portrayal of grief-stricken Briony Tallis in Atonement at just 13 earned her an Oscar nomination, making her the second youngest nominee ever.

Since then, her career has flourished with critically acclaimed performances in diverse roles. From the rebellious Lady Bird McPherson to the fierce Jo March in Little Women, she effortlessly embodies characters across genres, showcasing her remarkable versatility. Ronan’s dedication to her craft transcends mere acting; she co-founded her own production company, Black Label Films, empowering herself and other young female talents.

At 29, she already boasts numerous accolades, including a Golden Globe Award, and is considered one of the most promising actresses of her generation. With her magnetic presence and dedication to artistic integrity, Saoirse Ronan is an unstoppable force, leaving an indelible mark on cinema and proving that talent truly knows no age.

Mark Wahlberg

Lovely Bones

Mark Wahlberg’s story is anything but ordinary. Emerging from a rough childhood in Boston, he first found fame as a rapper under the moniker Marky Mark, captivating audiences with his raw energy. However, his ambition stretched beyond music. Transitioning into acting, he shed his “bad boy” image and transformed into a versatile performer, tackling roles across genres with unwavering dedication.

Wahlberg’s early films showcased his dramatic range, from the gritty portrayal of Dirk Diggler in Boogie Nights to the troubled basketball player in The Basketball Diaries. He navigated comedic roles with equal ease, charming audiences in Ted and the Daddy’s Home franchise. His commitment to physical transformation pushed him further, building muscle for The Departed and gaining weight for The Fighter, earning an Oscar nomination for both.

Today, Wahlberg stands as a Hollywood powerhouse, not just as an actor but also as a producer. He helms several production companies, amplifying diverse voices and championing stories close to his heart. While his journey wasn’t without missteps, his evolution from troubled youth to acclaimed actor and dedicated producer underscores his resilience and commitment to excellence, solidifying his place as a true Hollywood force.

Rachel Weisz

Lovely Bones

Stepping into the role of Abigail Salmon, Susie’s grief-stricken mother in The Lovely Bones, Rachel Weisz delivered a performance etched in raw emotion. However, this critically acclaimed actress boasts a career far exceeding that single portrayal.

Born in London to a family shaped by resilience, Weisz began acting in her teens, later attending Cambridge University. Theatre became her training ground, where she garnered recognition for her captivating stage presence. This naturally transitioned to film, where she quickly landed diverse roles in independent features and blockbusters alike.

From the captivating Evelyn Carnahan in The Mummy to the fiercely independent Agora in the historical drama of the same name, Weisz consistently demonstrated her versatility. Her talent shone through in nuanced portrayals, earning her an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in The Constant Gardener.

Beyond acting, Weisz has produced several films, demonstrating her creative drive and entrepreneurial spirit. She’s also actively involved in humanitarian causes, lending her voice to important issues.

So, while you may remember her from The Lovely Bones, know that Rachel Weisz is a multi-faceted artist, leaving her mark not just on cinema but also on the world around her.

Release and Reception

The Lovely Bones (2009) received mixed reviews from critics. Some praised the film for its beautiful visuals and emotional performances. They admired how it tackled themes of grief, loss, and justice.

However, others criticised the movie for its portrayal of violence and sexual assault. There was also controversy surrounding the casting of a white actor as a Native American character.

Overall, The Lovely Bones had both positive and negative feedback from critics. While some appreciated its visual appeal and heartfelt performances, others felt that it mishandled sensitive subjects or made questionable casting choices.

Despite these mixed reviews, The Lovely Bones was a box office success, grossing over $93 million worldwide.


Some people criticised The Lovely Bones for its portrayal of violence and sexual assault. They felt that the film was too graphic and disturbing in showing these scenes. The movie deals with some heavy themes, including rape and murder, which can be very distressing for viewers.

Some critics argued that the depiction of such violence was unnecessary and could potentially be triggering or exploitative. However, it’s important to remember that the film is based on a novel by Alice Sebold, who drew from her own personal experience of being sexually assaulted when writing the book.

While this doesn’t excuse any discomfort caused by the portrayal of violence in the film, it does provide some context for why these themes are present in the story.


The casting of a white actor as a Native American character in The Lovely Bones sparked controversy. Many people felt that it was inappropriate and disrespectful to cast someone who did not represent the character’s cultural background accurately.

This raised concerns about the lack of opportunities for Indigenous actors in Hollywood and the perpetuation of stereotypes through casting choices. The controversy highlighted the need for more diverse and inclusive representation in film, ensuring that actors from marginalised communities have equal opportunities to portray characters that reflect their ethnic backgrounds authentically.

Legacy and Awards

The Lovely Bones (2009) was recognised for its excellence with nominations for numerous prestigious awards, including the Academy Awards and Golden Globes. This recognition is a testament to the talent and skill of the cast and crew, who brought this captivating story to life on the screen.

It is a true achievement to be acknowledged by such an esteemed company in the film industry. The accolades serve as validation for the impact and quality of The Lovely Bones, solidifying its place as a remarkable film that continues to resonate with audiences even years after its release.

The Lovely Bones is more than just a film; it’s an emotional journey that invites you to contemplate the profound mysteries of life, loss, and the afterlife. With Saoirse Ronan delivering a haunting performance as Susie, the film delves into the complexities of grief, showcasing the devastating impact her absence has on her family. Weisz shines as the grief-stricken mother, while Wahlberg portrays the stoic father consumed by a quest for justice. Together, their portrayals weave a tapestry of raw emotion, reminding us of the enduring power of love that transcends even death.

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