The retelling of France's iconic but ill-fated queen, Marie Antoinette. From her betrothal and marriage to Louis XVI at 15 to her reign as queen at 19 and to the end of her reign as queen and ultimately the fall of Versailles.
With only the plan of moving in together after high school, two unusually devious friends seek direction in life. As a mere gag, they respond to a man's newspaper ad for a date, only to find it will greatly complicate their lives.
I was really looking forward to seeing The Virgin Suicides, even though I've seen it seriously panned by some critics. Unfortunately, my excitement quickly turned to agitation very early into the film, which actually felt more like an after school special than a poetic movie about "Love Sex Passion Fear Obsession". Wasn't this supposed to be something of a black comedy, too? The maudlin narration, done 25 years after the events which turned the Lisbon sisters into objects of further obsession by the neighborhood boys, begins the unfortunate descent.
To me, the story, which was well-acted by most of the cast, doesn't work as the remembrances of a collective adolescent imagination. The point of view of the narrator, who is speaking for all of the neighborhood boys, is completely unbelievable. The boys' memories of the girls don't ever feel mythical or mysterious enough to make the narration work, even though we're constantly told how hard to understand all of this is. These definitely don't sound like boyhood memories, even when 25 years of introspection and growth are taken into account. We could rely on the story as a straight narrative, then, but the characters are too thinly sketched to be believable. This, is intentional, but just doesn't work to the desired effect. The bond between the sisters, though, seemed to come across (powerfully, at times), and the young actors are definitely likeable in the movie - including the keen teen dream Trip Fontaine, a young womanizer who steals the hearts and loins of his female classmates. Michael Pare's role as the older, all-too-obviously-in-a-clinic Trip Fontaine, however was the worst acted and written role in the movie.
My biggest beef is with the direction and the dialog. I hear Sofia was true to the dialog in the book, which makes me more than reluctant to pick it up. What was meant to be poetic came across as banal. The scenes which appear to strive to be the most powerful were the most annoying - especially James Woods' and Kathleen Turner's discovery of the body of the first daughter to successfully take her own life. And what about that sprinkler? Was it supposed to be a punctuation mark or was it supposed to be funny? I could only survive through these moments if I forced myself to understand what Sofia Coppola was trying to achieve. Even the wonderful score by Air sounded trite in certain meant-to-be-powerful scenes, some of which even seemed to be lifted directly, but to less effect, from other movies.
I encourage Sofia Coppola to keep making films, of course - even if I was extremely disappointed in her first feature-length attempt. It's easy to see that her career has the potential to produce some gems.
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