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As someone who is currently wrapped up in reading Alice Sebold’s fantastic book “The Lovely Bones,” it excites me to know end that Peter Jackson‘s film adaptation is on its way. Hitting theaters on December 11, 2009, The Lovely Bones will tell the story of a young girl named Susie Salmon (Soairse Ronan) who is brutally murdered and watches over her family from a spiritual place “in-between” Heaven and Earth. She watches as her killer, played by Stanley Tucci, walks through her neighborhood unfound and her family — including her father played by Mark Wahlberg, mother played by Rachel Weisz and sister played by Rose McIver — deal with her unexpected and mysterious disappearance and death.

The book — or at least the first two-thirds of the book that I’ve read so far — is a brilliant piece of work. Alice Sebold has a very soft touch with a very dark subject that makes the book both sad and hopeful. And it appears that this element is one of the things that drew director Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings) to the project. “I found the book to be curiously optimistic,” Jackson explained to the USA Today via email. “I felt inspired by Susie’s struggle to come to terms with her own death. In the face of overwhelming grief, she finds hope. She holds on to love, and by doing so, she transcends the horror of her murder.”

It will be interesting to see how Jackson handles the visual nature of Susie’s in-between afterlife, from which she watches over her family. He explained in the interview with USA Today that the film won’t be creating another world with heavy effects, leaving a lot to be interpreted in the minds of the audience. Also interesting is the incredibly talented cast that has assembled for this film as well as a few cast members who will have to show us something new — most notably, Mark Wahlberg is taking on a very dynamic, emotionally driven character as Susie’s father. There is potential here for his performance to be either eye-opening or a complete bust. If it is eye-opening, this could be a performance worthy of lofty recognition. Should it be a bust, the movie will suffer mightily. No pressure, though.

The Lovely Bones hits theaters on December 11, 2009. Check out two new images below. The first, from USA Today, shows a look at Stanley Tucci as the child murdering George Harvey. The second, courtesy of Empire, shows Soairse Ronan as Susie Salmon. Click on either of the images to see the source articles.

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