“I wept at the idea of a world that can hold so much beauty and so much horror at the same time. This is a significant, powerful film, one that I will revisit soon and often.”
I don’t trust Hitfix’s Drew McWeeny take on The Lovely Bones because of the residual DNA of anyone who was heavily invested in Ain’t It Cool culture (as he was for many years) and the almost contractual requirement that you had to be in the tank (along with Harry) for anything directed or even produced by Peter Jackson.
McWeeny is, of course, his own man and a good guy and a very fine writer and all, but a strong instinct is telling me to regard his positive Bones review with great wariness.
Especially since McWeeny decides to use the word “significant” at the end of the review without saying how significant — i.e., very, somewhat, extremely or whatever. Calling a film “significant” is the same as calling it “interesting.” It means nothing. Well, actually it does mean something. It means that a critic is trying to be gracious without being too generous or specific.
Nor am I persuaded by David Poland‘s serpentine, mixed-positive, perceptive-sounding response. Partly because he spends 15 or 20 seconds zapping other critics for exhibiting “a failure of imagination” before winding and weaving through his here-and-there reactions.
I detect the old Poland generosity here — he loves to be the kindly generous one, the guy who gets what a major director has tried to do when others haven’t, and especially the one critic who feels the emotional current in a film when other critics have rejected it because…you know, critics don’t like emotion.
“I’m not sure where it ranks in the worldview of movies, honestly because I’ve only seen it the one time…it does demand multiple viewings,” he says. (That’s a warning siren right there.) “It’s complex, it is more than one thing at once…each time you get settled into it being one thing it becomes another thing…it is unsettling, but the story is unsettling.”
And then comes the obiter dicta that gives the game away: “I’m not sure if it’s one of the best movies of the year,” he says, “or a middle movie.” Trust me on this when I say that Poland-the-benevolent allowing that The Lovely Bones may be “a middle movie” can certainly be interpreted as a somewhat guarded appraisal.
Sensing that he’s putting out ambivalent signals, Poland then rebounds by calling The Lovely Bones “a very good movie…a fascinating piece of work…something we’ve never seen before, we’ve never had ths experieince…the storytelling is rock-solid…it makes you feel, which is maybe not so great for critics but I think for audiences it’s a pretty terrific thing.”
Get how the system works? If you’re in touch with your emotions and not afraid to feel things, you may be strong and mature and big-of-heart enough to appreciate The Lovely Bones.