Alice Sebold has ruined the movie for me. Except, to be fair, watching the movie again would probably have done the same. In other words, revisiting this story in any way was destined to go poorly. It’s a book about a girl who watches her family have boring, weepy lives in the wake of her being murdered, plays around in the sort of too-perfect Heaven that I imagine is the wet dream of some Christians, and possesses an unsuspecting girl so she can use that body to sex up the boy she shared one kiss with before she died, the boy who realizes what’s going on partway through and yet barely even hesitates to continue defiling the virgin body of this girl who, when not possessed by the ghost of his dead crush, would never even consider allowing such a thing.
Sorry, you’ll never convince me that ending wasn’t offensively bad and distasteful. I don’t just mean the making of sexy times either. Her killer gets away, then dies by way of an icicle!? Before that, even, Susie’s father suspects him of being the murderer based on – what? – their dog barking at him and the guy being “weird”? Oh, and his mother commits adultery and abandons her family following Susie’s death because… why? She was drifting away before that, supposedly, but that’s something of a whole other sort. Of course, though, she comes back at the end. I’m glad the movie at least had the common sense to cut that particular plot-line out. If only it’d rewritten the story entirely like David Koepp did with Forrest Gump.
Perhaps then there might have been more mesmerizing about it than Saorise Ronan’s eyes. The movie’s better than the book, yes, but not exactly by a large margin. I guess there’s only so much you can do with a story about a girl who, again, just sits around and watches her family do… nothing all that interesting. There’s not even a real push to find her killer. Her dad goes after their neighbor, who really is the killer, for a little while, but then gives up the search. A story about a family fighting to move on after their daughter turns up murdered can be compelling, just not in the hands of Sebold. The screenwriters for the film did a slightly better job, thanks in part to removing some of the more questionable parts and rewriting others, yet it remained just intermittently good at best. It’s for this reason that I may still like the movie, in spite of the book moving me to rage at points. Don’t expect me to rewatch it anytime soon, though. This story and I need to take a little break first before I even start to think about that being an option.