As a enthusiast of Alice Sebold's book, I was anxious to see the movie. The book has a haunting, ethereal, yet surprisingly warm and hopeful feel that the movie sometimes grasps, but, more often than not, the movie borders between horrifyingly violent and sappily sentimental.
As expected, Stanley Tucci (George Harvey) portrays a genuinely creepy psychopath; the protagonist's, Susie Salmon's, killer who has lived next door to the family for years and continues to do so. The young heroine, Susie, "played with unnerving self-assurance and winning vivacity by Saorise Roman, cares desperately about the poor living souls left in her wake, but it is not clear that [Director Peter Jackson] shares her concern."
Roman, with exquisite softness and care, guides us through her family, coping with the loss of a daughter and sister, Harvey's house where he makes dollhouses, and the tangled webs they all weave as Susie seeks out justice for herself and, you know in her heart of hearts, for her family.
Jackson makes this movie too Lord of the Rings meets Alice in Wonderland to parallel the book. He creates Susie's purgatory, the "in-between" - in the book, the mostly undefined scenery from where she watches and narrates - in far too explicit, almost psychedelic detail. Sure, he has the time period down, but Jackson seems to be lacking any real human concern. And that is at the center of this Dickensonian tale.
Nevertheless, this movie is worth a see, but make sure you read the book, too!