We saw this movie in January. I knew it was a murder mystery, and based on a book, but not much more than that going in.
The movie was set in the early 70s, and the overall visuals had a lovely warm, yellowish colour, like an aged photograph. Given the narrator’s love of photography, I’m sure this was quite a deliberate effect. There also wasn’t much mystery for the viewers, as we got to see what happened to Susie Salmon early on. Therefore it was more a family drama about how those left behind dealt with her absence and not knowing what happened.
Visually the movie was really good. The performances were all excellent. Rachel Weisz and Mark Wahlberg were great as the Salmon parents; Stanley Tucci was justifiably nominated for an academy award for his role as the antagonist, and Susan Sarandon stole every scene she was in as the alcoholic grandmother.
I don’t want to go into story details, as I don’t want to spoil it for those who do not know what happens, but the two young girls who played the Salmon sisters really were excellent. Saoirse Ronan carried the movie as the victim who was watching over her family. Rose McIver had a smaller role as Lindsay Salmon, but was excellent in some genuinely tense moments.
Overall, the visuals were beautful, the story was well paced, the performances were fantastic, and it was a movie I would highly recommend. Just be aware that it isn’t really a mystery for viewers, as we are aware what happened. It is perhaps more of a thriller or a suspenseful drama. I was also not completely satisfied with the resolution, given that it was beyond human agency, but as Daedalist pointed out, as the story was narrated from a post-mortem point of view it was not an out-of-place solution to the story.
I understand that the book covers a much longer time period, and that there are a number of changes in the family relationships during that time, but I think the movie stands up in its own right.