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I'm uncertain why the daughter of a Hollywood icon would select as her first
director effort a nearly unfilmable book of linguistic time bombs and nearly
unspeakable tragedy. Jeffrey Eugenides's book The Virgin Suicides is one of
the underappreciated gems of the 1990s and surely Sophia Coppola must have
known that the critics would have it out for anything she did (see reviews
listed under "acting: Part 3, The Godfather"). So Coppola, daughter of
Francis Ford, decided to do something unexpected: She made a gem of a movie
that's easy to like and complex enough to savour.
Taking place "25 years ago" in "Michigan," The Virgin Suicides tells the story of a group of teenage boys and the Lisbon sisters, whose suicides changed them forever. The book is told with a rather unique choral narrator (the entire story is in the first person plural) which makes it clear that the focus of the story is not the Lisbons, but the boys and their attempts to restructure the events of what must have been their final summer of innocence. Similarly, the film features extensive voice-overs, culled from the book, coming from an unidentified member (or members) of the gang. You might wonder why you're never able to distinguish between any of the four or five or six males who wander through the story, or why at least several of the Lisbon girls also blend together, but rest assured it's intentional. The Virgin Suicides is very much about a baffled collective.
The movie begins with the first suicide attempt of the youngest Lisbon girl. When the doctor examining her asks why should would try to kill herself she offers the simple response, "Obviously, Doctor, you have never been a thirteen year old girl." The book and film are both really about men and how incapable we are of understand what it's like to be a thirteen year old girl or a thirty year old woman or really anything in between. And what's even more frustrating is the fact that women seem to understand men so devastatingly well (a trait perfectly personified in Kirsten Dunst's portrayal of middle sister Lux). The narrative such as it is marches inexorably through the gradual awakening of the narrators and the inevitable realization that they never knew anything.
Coppola, who also adapted the screenplay, makes decent use of the book's two metaphorical subplots -- an outbreak of Dutch Elm Disease and a cemetery worker's strike. The rot of suburban life lies at the core of this story and Coppola wisely never overplays her hand. She loves using mythic imagery, generally revolving around Dunst, an actress beginning to produce the kind of resume that speaks of longevity. Coppola's background in costuming is also evident, displaying the decadence and tackiness of the observing characters, contrasted with the spare Puritainism of the Lisbons.
Coppola gets mostly good performances from the young generation of her cast. As the only two characters to get individual notice, Dunst and Josh Hartnett do excellent work. She's the animal core of the film and he perfectly captures the perplexed, corrupted purity of the male side of the story. Playing against type, James Woods is excellent as the Lisbon's introverted henpecked father and Kathleen Turner is effectively scary as their domineering mother.
The film is also aided by some wonderful technical work including Jasna Stefanovic's nostalgic, but never cutesy production design and Edward Lachman's versatile cinematography. The soundtrack by the French band Air is also notable, mixed with various hit songs from the period.
The Virgin Suicides has perhaps too many moments of whimsy, where it seems too devoted to its source, even when the material doesn't translate properly. But still, it's the moments of magic -- the Lisbon girls prom, an eerie family party, and phone conversation spoken only with records -- that stand out. I'd give this one an 8/10.
I had been meaning to see The Virgin Suicides since I first heard it was
being released to film, based on its 1993 book by Jeffrey Eugenides. I
got around to it until the other night when I rented it on
Oh. My. God. This film was beautifully done with its easy-on-the-eyes cinematography, the shades of colours, the portrayal of seasons, the flawless actors (all of them), the way they moved & spoke.
As in the book, this film is told as a memory of a group of boys' fascination & obsession with the lives of a group of very blonde sisters.
It's not your typical formula film & includes a wondrous soundtrack, to say the least, with hypnotic contributions by Air. It still lingers in my mind - the true mark of a great film, in my eyes.
The book, the film, the soundtrack: I recommend them all.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
As far as really really good movies I've had the fortune of seeing recently
the one that really stands out is a overlooked movie that came out last year
called "The Virgin Suicides." The movie while one of the more depressing
movies in recent memories is just brilliantly directed by first time
director Sofia Coppola (it was also her first screenplay - quite impressive
indeed). I thought you know going into this movie A) I'm a guy and B)
depressing movies just sometimes make it really really tough for me to like
the movie they have those endings where its like you emotionally feel like
you have just fallen off a cliff... yet despite A) and B) I was very moved
by this movie... the directing, cinematography, acting, music - all work
extremely well hand in hand complementing each other. This movie will make
you even more so want to enjoy every second and moment with those rare &
special people you meet on the roads of life.
Josh Hartnett as Trip Fontaine turns in a very cool performance. Kathleen Turner turns in a performance that is so good you wonder how she got overlooked when it came Oscar time... and of course James Woods is incredible as are all the Lisbon sisters. Kirsten Dunst is intoxicatingly beautiful in this movie and really proves she is going to be an amazing actress to watch in the years ahead.
Probably my favorite sequence in the movie is the telephone sequence towards the end... the scene starts out and your not quite sure where it's going to go... but once the needle on the record strikes and the Todd Rundgren song "Hello It's Me" starts to play it transports you into a genuinely touching movie moment (and a great use of split screens) as you watch the boys and Lisbon sisters phone each other back playing music that perfectly fits. Another favorite scene is where Josh Hartnett leaves the Lisbon house... and you know he is sorta on this "not-really a date - date. The montages throughout the movie and their interludes with the music by the band "Air" combined with the beautiful cinematography by Edward Lachman are just pure movie magic.
All in all a movie that draws you in despite its slow moments, depressing moments, and haunting moments... a movie full of life, quite moments, passion, imagination, reaching out, and those moments in life not usually seen in movies that are beautifully captured in a very passionate way. Going back over the movie I find that when the movie works you become much like the boys in the movie fully enthralled with the Lisbon sisters and searching for clues and answers as to "why... why... why"... as key and subtle moments pass by... its very hard not to fall in love with the Lisbon sisters... and though they exist solely in the realm of this movie... you feel that they are real as if they were someone you know in your life either as sister or a friend that you care about deeply and you feel their ups and downs... yet at the same time you can't reach out to help... though you desperately want to...
The Virgin Suicides. Just the name may scare away viewers from this film. But if you are a fan of the 1993 novel, you will appreciate the way this vivid portrayal captures the spirit of love, life, and death. The story begins with an introduction to the Lisbon family. Mr. and Mrs. Lisbon gave birth to five daughters: Cecile, Lux, Mary, Bonnie, and Therese, all ranging in ages from thirteen to seventeen. Following a suicide attempt from Cecile, her parents and sisters struggle to give her what they think she lacked before; love, attention, admiration. But somewhere along the way, Cecilia grew lost and constantly withdrew from many situations. One tragic night at a Lisbon party, Cecilia succeeds at committing suicide. What follows is a bittersweet experience in the girl's lives. The story is narrated by the neighborhood boys, who lust after the girls, collecting everything they can of theirs and holding meetings just to talk about the wonders of their forbidden fruit. After strict Mrs. Lisbon shuts the house in maximum security isolation, the girl's only contact with the outside world is through these boys. This poignant, beautiful drama, written and directed by newcomer Sofia Coppola, captures the smooth lifestyles of mid 1970s suburbia, along with the beauty and angst of teenage life. It shows us how deeply through the heart emotions can run, and how to get in touch with them. Kirsten Dunst, the beautiful and talented young actress that portrays the most rebellious of the sisters, is stunning and provacative. Her best work yet.
A strange, surreal flight-of-fancy of death and love, remembrance and how romanticized our memories become. It's also very funny, tending to mix the black comedy of something like "Heathers" with the stifling suburban scenario of "American Beauty" (but it's better than both). Kirsten Dunst is fantastic as the foxiest of five golden-toned sisters in the mid-'70s who feel trapped by their parents (a peculiar, but not overly monstrous couple), trapped by their feelings, trapped by time. They can breathe--and live freely--only in their fantasies (and perhaps in death), but do their realities represent a prison? It's the talent of writer-director Sofia Coppola not to push everything over-the-top; she's careful, she leaves the viewer contemplating the characters' motivations and actions. The situation is indeed unexplainable, yet it is in our nature to expect a resolution, to expect concrete evidence as to WHY and demand an answer. Yet there are no answers to the sadness of the strangers who live across the street, even as we pass through their lives and through their houses. "The Virgin Suicides" offers fascinating food for thought. *** from ****
"The Virgin Suicides" is a touching, artistic film which transforms you through various stages of grief to realize what you already knew all along - Suicide is pointless. The film focuses on the lives of five teenage sisters from the perspective of the teenage boys who adore them. It's warm, funny, and totally engaging not to mention a soundtrack to die for! There are incredible moments of cinematography - images that burn like when mother Kathleen Turner insists that her daughter, Kirsten Dunst burn her rock albums, Kiss, Aerosmith .the overwhelming stench and smoke billows out the doorway behind her when Kathleen throws the rest in the trash and without a flinch she re-enters the billowing doorway. Only a few rocky transitions between scenes catch you by surprise and pull you out of Sophia's incredible imagination and back to your theatre seat. With wonderful performances by Kathleen Turner, Kirsten Dunst, James Woods and the rest and powerful directing by Sophia Coppola you're left wondering as any friend or parent would - "why?" "Didn't they know we loved them?"
I've searched for this movie more than two years, cause I've read the
book and I do love it. It's one of the most beautiful stories about
teenagers that had ever been written. The suicides of these five
beautiful girls aren't to be taken seriously, it's a metaphor the
author uses. He wants so write about the strange and often really
terrible feelings teenagers have. And Sofia Coppola created an
atmosphere I can't describe. Just as a light wind on a hot summer day,
if you know what I mean. She's really one of the greatest young
directors (especially female) of our time. "Lost in Translation" is a
masterpiece as well. The actors were good, Kirsten Dunst is such a
great actress, she should do more movies like "The Virgin Suicides",
where she really has to act. Josh Harnett is wonderful as Trip and the
girls who play Therese, Mary, Bonnie and Cecilia, are great
discoveries. If you like films with depth, films you have to think
about, this one here is remarkable for you. Please, watch it and
immerse in the world of the Lisbon girls and the boys next door.
P.s.: I hope I didn't make too much mistakes. :)
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I've never read the book, so I don't know how different this is. The
only thing I know is that this adaptation by Sophia Coppola is
The movie is about the Lisbon sisters, whose parents are overly protective. After one of the girls, Lux, stays out late with boyfriend Trip, their grip tightens, and the girls find themselves under house arrest. This leaves one option, which everyone knows from the title.
When you read the title, you automatically assume that this movie will be insanely depressing. It's not so, as you have plenty of time to prepare yourself. There is some pretty funny dark humor, which is mostly used by the guys, and is foreshadowing what's to come.
This is one of Kirsten Dunst's best performances. I also now know why so many people fell in love with Josh Hartnett. He's absolutely handsome as popular guy Trip Fontaine.
Throughout the movie, I watched with disgust at the parent's actions. It's not right to break curfew, but do you really need to put them under house arrest?
This movie has an R rating in the U.S., but it's not really that inappropriate. There are some really touchy parts, but nothing to drastic. The cinematography is stunning, and the best part of the movie. Sophia Coppola is a fantastic director, and I love her work.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I expected more from ''The Virgin Suicides''. This movie is told to be
so good and even having a big name as Sofia Coppola helped me to have a
big interest in watching it. But I found it a little bit boring, and
also without a purpose: Okay, the girls committed suicide because they
hated the life they were having with their horrible mother (Kathleen
Turner) and called the boys because they wanted them to be witnesses of
their suicide. And? I really lacked some reality in this movie. Not
only from the parent's isolation from the world(come on,any teenager I
know would try to escape from that horrible parents,me included) but
some scenes after the Lisbon's girls died are so out of place, like the
party where people uses gas masks.
Nice thing to see Josh Hartnett as Trip in this movie. He was always beautiful,but definitely changed for better.
aka "As Virgens Suicidas" - Brazil
"Virgin Suicides" is a movie by Sofia Coppola that talks about the
Lisbon family. A group of boys, who adored them, come together after 20
years and try to solve the mystery of the Lisbon sisters.
Parents (James Woods, Kathleen Turner) think that the world is too evil and cruel for their five beautiful daughters, Lux (Kirsten Dunst), Mary (A. J. Cook), Cecilia (Hanna R. Hall), Therese (Leslie Hayman) and Bonnie (Chelse Swain). After the youngest of the girls, Cecilia, commits suicide on the first and only party of their life, Mr. and Mrs. Lisbon change the rules to be more strict. When Lux decides to brake the rules, they are taken out of school and their lives become full of misery and pain.
To me, "Virgin Suicides" was one of the best movies I have seen in my short life. It made me think a lot about those girls and feel sorry for them. They were so beautiful and just in desire to live, but they were miserable under the strict commands of their parents. They knew about the boys who adored them and after the imprisoning, turned to them for help. They were all trying to find a way out of the misery and sadness in their own way.
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