2009, Peter Jackson, 135 mins.
A young girl is murdered and tells her story from the afterlife.
Peter Jackson’s best film since Heavenly Creatures, this is an adaptation of Alice Sebold’s novel which is distinctive for quite sensational visuals from cinematographer Andrew Lesnie and an astonishing performance from Stanley Tucci as the banal but deviant neighbour who murders the fourteen year old narrator of the film, played with immense confidence by young Saoirse Ronan. Tucci captures a sense of evil which is genuinely disturbing and allows Jackson to be relatively discreet in the portrayal of the murder. In fact, the film underplays both the potential for both horror and sentimentality, and the result is something very unusual and distinctive. A slight misstep is Susan Sarandon’s quirky performance as the lush of a grandmother but this is compensated for by the fine, understated work by Mark Wahlberg and Rachel Weisz as Ronan’s parents trying to cope with grief.