Freeze Frame: Lovely Bones’s Wondrous Reincarnation

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This is part of an ongoing weekly series called “Freeze Frame,” where we break down our very favorite sci-fi/fantasy/adventure moments – the scenes that we look forward to, that remind us why we so love this job. As you might guess, such discussions are riddled with spoilers.

Lovely Bones: An Unforgettable Reincarnation

The Lovely Bones continues to expand to additional theaters across the country this weekend, before opening wide Jan. 15 – the heartbreaking story of a young girl who is murdered and then continues to watch her loved ones from the “in-between,” trapped between Earth and heaven. She sees the pain her absence causes her parents, her sister, even the boy she had long pined for, who had finally asked her on a date only moments before her death.

Only one living person can see young Susie: Ruth, a girl who has an uncanny connection to the dead. And in the most moving scene of the movie – as well as the book – Susie crosses the great divide through her body. (Peter Jackson talks Lovely Bones)

Since Susie’s death, Ruth has started dating the boy Susie once fawned over. And as Ruth looks out the window one day, she sees a reflection of Susie’s face, floating closer and closer. Peter Jackson uses this reflection to create simultaneous close-ups, positioning both girls in the frame without ever having them occupy the same space. It is a haunting, beautiful, ethereal moment, as the music builds and Susie continues to move closer in slow-motion. Only feet from where Susie’s corpse is being disposed, here comes the dead girl, less interested in her killer than in the boy she once dreamt of. Seeing the faces of the two girls collide on the window pane, we are reminded of all that Susie will never experience, of all that was robbed from her.

And then Susie pushes forward still, entering Ruth’s body, which collapses onto the bed. The boy comes running in. He leans down to kiss Ruth, only to see Susie’s face instead. She experiences her first kiss, and heals the final wound. Her soul is at peace.

Critics have been mixed about The Lovely Bones, conflicted over how Jackson depicts the killer and Susie’s in-between existence. But this reincarnation is a perfect moment, both a mourning of a lost life and a celebration of a spirit making itself known. An ending as well as a beginning. A moment of surging, conflicting emotions, as well as a metaphysical transformation that warps the story’s reality.

And it might just be one of the most memorable movie kisses to boot.

When I talk to people about The Lovely Bones, this is the scene I talk about.

See Techland’s top 10 sci-fi movies of the decade.

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