My 2010 New Year’s resolution is “More leisure!” and I followed my own advice on Friday, stopped working early, and headed out for a girls’ afternoon/evening of fun.  First stop, a movie, followed by some barbecue and drinks.  What a treat!

We saw The Lovely Bones, the story of a 14-year-old girl who is murdered and then watches her family – and her murderer – as she floats in the “in between” until she can move on to heaven.  It was a bit intense for this group, all of whom (except me) are mothers of young children or teens and felt the fear, anxiety, and horror of the film’s premise as only a mother can.  An interesting discussion ensued over drinks later, including talk of mixed feelings about having adolescents see this film.  On the one hand, it portrays the need to be careful and follow one’s instincts about whom to trust in a visceral way that kids would take to heart; on the other hand, it could easily produce a pervasive fear of and permanent “skeevies” about all strangers, especially solitary neighbors.

Like all of director Peter Jackson’s work, this movie is worth seeing. It tells the story (from the novel of the same name by Alice Sebold) faithfully and poignantly, with only the minimum amount of sap needed to convey the feelings of a 14-year-old girl. The acting is excellent, especially from 15-year-old Saoirse Ronan (who played Briony in Atonement) as Susie Salmon; Susie’s siblings Lindsey (Rose McIver) and little Buckley (Christian Thomas Ashdale) are adorable and real; Susan Sarandon is a force of nature as the chain-smoking, alcoholic grandmother; Micheal Imperioli is realistic yet empathetic as the cop who tries to find Susie; and Stanley Tucci is just utterly creepy – I don’t think I’ve been this disturbed by a portrayal of a serial killer since Ted Levine’s morbidly marvelous performance in Silence of the Lambs!   Continue reading