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.
A man about forty years of age tells the story from when he was a teenager in upscale suburban Detroit of his and three of his friends' fascination with the mysterious and doomed Lisbon sisters. In 1974, the sisters were seventeen year old Therese, sixteen year old Mary, fifteen year old Bonnie, fourteen year old Lux, and thirteen year old Cecilia. Their fascination still remains as they try to piece together the entire story. The sisters were mysteries if only because of having a strict and overprotective upbringing by their father, who taught math at the girls' private co-ed school, and overly devout Catholic mother, who largely dictated the household rules. The story focuses primarily on two incidents and the resulting situations on the girls' lives. The first was an action by Cecilia to deal with her emotions over her life. And the second was the relationship between Lux - the sister who pushed the boundaries of the household rules most overtly in doing what most teenagers want to... Written by
Sofia Coppola's film is an adaptation of Jeffrey Eugenides excellent novel of the same name. It is a beautiful, visually stunning movie, but it fails to capture the book's spirit.
The Virgin Suicides presents itself as a story about five mysterious Lisbon sisters. It all starts when the youngest one, Cecilia, tries to commit suicide, but, unsurprisingly, tragic events don't stop there. In essence, this is a coming of age story for the group of boys, who watch the Lisbon sisters and fantasize about them long after they're gone. It's also the story about the death of suburbia in the 70s.
The cast is very good, if a little surprising. Kathleen Turner and James Woods are excellent as the parents. Kirsten Dunst might not seem as the perfect person to play the most rebellious of the sisters, Lux, but she is quite good in capturing the character's spirit. Josh Hartnett as the school hearth throb Trip Fontaine, proves to poses an acting talent in one of his earliest roles. Too bad some of his later work was forgettable (or embarrassing). But bringing Trip Fontaine to life was not an easy task, given the importance of the character and the fact the screen time was limited, and he pulls that off with ease.
Copolla does her best to keep all the important dialogues and scenes from the book. Great attention is given even to the little details only people who've read the novel will notice: the bracelets, brown-and white saddle shoes, Trip Fontaine's necklace. Directors and screenwriters rarely do that these days, and it's a big plus.
However, the film never manages to be more than just average, if stunningly beautiful. It somehow includes all the details, but completely misses the atmosphere and spirit of the novel. It's probably because of Copolla's choice to focus on the sisters themselves and not the boys; this way, much of the mystery about them is gone, and it was one of the driving forces in the book.
But a film doesn't need to be a great adaptation of the book to be good. However, The Virgin Suicides is never fully able to exist on its own; there are many scenes and situations that seem confusing if you're unfamiliar with the book. So at the same time it fails to capture the novel's spirit, while being too dependent on the novel to fully stand on its own.
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