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Captures the Dark Comedy and Lyric Poetry of the Book
d_fienberg31 January 2001
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.
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9/10
A depressing movie that is beautiful and timeless
cinemaisdope27 March 2001
Warning: 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...
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Dreamy, poignant, captivating...a must-see!
kgx31115 January 2001
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.
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10/10
Kept me quite still
peelmeuhgrape26 January 2001
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 never got around to it until the other night when I rented it on video.

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.
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7/10
"How much can you write about dead trees?"
moonspinner5513 November 2001
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 ****
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7/10
Beautiful, but not a great adaptation of the book
deconstructing17 April 2011
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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Engaging and heartfelt - a MUST see!
eursin6 May 2000
"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?"
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6/10
First movie made by Sofia Coppola
Jessica Carvalho8 March 2006
Warning: 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
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9/10
Sofia Coppola is a genius
Sara23 January 2005
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. :)
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9/10
Stunning cinematography makes this film the masterpiece it is
Macadamian-Nut21 October 2004
Warning: 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 fantastic.

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.

--9.5/10
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overwhelming and beautifully done film...
tripperM14 February 2001
genuine film talent runs in the blood. sophia coppola's debut is so perfectly done that it'll be hard for her to top. her use of camera angles and shadowing and filters came together so well. i didn't get to see it big screen but you don't need to. it's so elegant and "large" a film.

the acting is subtle and astute. the soundtrack lends to the film better than most films i've seen come out of new hollywood.

the only continuity flaw i saw was the elm tree being in the front yard towards the end after it was so cerimoniously cut down. being the psychological focal point of the film, they should have been more vigilant chequing the dailies...

virgin suicides and american beauty both show profound promise for new hollywood. see them both...
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10/10
Depressing, beautiful & thoughtful
kystilla14 November 2004
"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.

10/10
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1/10
Nepotism at it's finest ( worst )
Dan Grant10 May 2000
Warning: Spoilers
Warning: does contain spoilers

Nepotism: favourtism, especially towards ones relatives. ( Webster's Dictionary )

Nepotism: it's not what you know but who you know. ( everyone else )

I am now convinced that everyone is a sheep. I have been reading the reviews in here and from professional critics and I can't believe what I am seeing. People are saying that this film is brilliant and wonderful and heart wrenching and such. They say that Sophia Coppola has made a hauntingly auspicious debut with The Virgin Suicides. And I saw the film yesterday and I can't believe I was watching the same film that these people were. Because when I left the theater I was angry, again. Angry that a film like this was allowed to be made simply because Sophia is Youknowwho's daughter. And look at the cast in here. Many of them are Coppola cronies that have appeared in his films before. You have Kathleen Turner who was in Peggy Sue Got Married. Danny DeVito was in Rainmaker and of course you have Scott Glenn as the priest, who was in Apocolypse Now. James Woods doesn't have a direct connection with Coppola, work wise, but he sure is a Scorsese cronie and Scorsese and Coppola are friends so I'm sure Woods and FFC have met on many occassions.

These four names, although not Hollywood heavyweights like they once used to be, are still quite a casting coup to get for your first film that looks like it has the budget of a used car. Toss into the frey Giovanni Ribisi, Josh Hartnett and Kirsten Dunst and you have a great cast that can do wonders with almost any material given to them. This however, is not one of those films. I'm not sure if it's inepptitude can be solely blamed on Sophia Coppola but since she is the writer and director, where else can you look. This is not a haunting film. This is not a tragic film and this is not a great directorial debut. This is a film that has very little plot that we haven't seen before, and it is quite poorly directed and very poorly paced.

The Virgin Suicides tells the story of the Lisbon family seen though the eyes of the neighborhood boys that were not really in love with them, even though the script will have you believe that, but rather more confused, fascinated and in bewilderment of them. The girls are all beautiful and they are all untouchable because of over-protective parents and moreso an over zealous mother who used Jesus as her savior and reason to not let her children out of the house. She doesn't want them anywhere near boys and when she finally does let them go to a dance, she makes them wear identical dresses and adds cloth to the length and to the bust line. Okay, so this is nothing that we haven't seen or heard about before. Take films like Carrie, Mommie Dearest, The Menenez Brothers etc and this kind of thing is something that has been done before. But then the daughters all die and we know that because of the title. So now the rest of the film has to show us why they decided to expire themselves. Why did they kill themselves? That is really the question. And of course we all know that it is because of mom and dad. Ho Hum.

Now I am not opposed to ideas being recycled, after all, there are only so many stories you can tell. Eventually they just become variations of the original. Karate Kid is a rehash of Rocky, all Cyborg films are a rehash of The Terminator and every action spy movie is a clone of James Bond etc. etc. So now the trick is to tell your story well and do something intriguing and exciting to keep the audience interested. Take what American Pie did or even a film like True Lies. American Pie was a retread of Porky's, Fasttimes and many other teen films from the 80's. But they added some 90's gross out humour along with some revamped gigs from its predecessors. True Lies had a funny script and a funny Arnold and Arnold to play off each other and so now it stands on it's own as a great spy flick. The Virgin Suicides not only isn't original, it isn't entertaining or even very good. And that has to start with Sophia Coppola.

I counted, ( after I began to count ) about 10 different segments in the film that had no bearing to the story, just shots really, that were there for no other reason than to be there ( was there an editor present on this film?). There was one scene where the girls are in a bathroom together and they do nothing there. They don't really talk, they don't give away a big secret, they don't do anything. And then it goes onto the next scene. Now that is maddening. Coppola's direction is ambiguous, unfocussed and doesn't have any aim as to what she is trying to say. Not only that, but if you want it in plain english, the film is boring, tedious and quite pretentious. Maybe she has better films in her future but she is going to have a short career in Hollywood if she keeps making films like this that are crap.

The Virgin Suicides is actually one of the worst films I have seen in my life. But it does one thing and that is it confirms one of the oldest adages in the world.

" It's not what you know but who you know. " How true in this case, but having the same genes as the man who made the Godfathers and Apocolypse Now does not mean you can make movies like him. This is a prime example of that.

1 out of 10
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Cecilia's Diary: Angst as Posed Pulchritude
tedg13 February 2001
Warning: Spoilers
Spoilers herein.

Sophia had a lot of good advice, and took a risky path. All is invested in the twin narratives of voice over and story-by-image rather than theater conventions.

What a voiceover! By the strong Ribisi. What images! This may confuse some who expect there to be a plot, to have action and explanations. None of that here. Nothing is explained and it is somewhat questionable what happens.

That's because Ms Coppola builds her narrative around Cecelia's diary. We see everything through a haze. Along the way, we encounter numerous unreliable witnesses. The psychiatrist -- strong here -- is DeVito who made a comedy of `Pale Fire,' for chrissakes (`Throw Momma from the Train'). The lover, who testifies, is institutionalized. TV reporters give twisted reports. The parents dissemble.

Presumably DeVito advised on the Nabokovizing of the narrative, so that we cannot know if the remembrance is true. (The `Lolita' references are continuous, including the casting of Dominique Swain's (`Lolita') sister as Bonnie.) It is, therefore, all about collecting photos from the trash and weaving a story around misty remembrances and fantasies (the nightly trysts on the roof). It works not because it rings true, but because its falseness rings true.

There's lots of moving back and forth in time and imagination, all done cinematically. Added in: the coconspirator with you, the narrator, is the Church -- the Virgin of the title originates with the surrogate mother, who exists only as a reinvention of history. Here, she is a card.

How great to see Woods as a peripheral force rather than the fulcrum of a film.

The removal of trees and the decay of the house probably figure more strongly in the book. .
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3/10
I wasted an hour and a half of my life!!!
Knewsense7825 September 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I can't believe it, that I actually sat through this crappy film, constantly hitting display on the good ol' DVD remote to see how much longer was left. And, while the movie only runs 97 minutes (including credits), it sure felt like an eternity!!! Hanna Hall plays Cecilia Lisbon, the youngest of the five Lisbon daughters, and is the first to off herself, even though it takes a second attempt before she succeeds, mind you. At first she tries in the tub with a razor, but that doesn't work. She goes to see a shrink (Danny Devito) who tells her parents (James Woods and Kathleen Turner, who seems to be lost in this role) that he thinks Cecilia just did it for attention. The parents decide to have a little get together for the girls in their basement and invite some of the neighborhood boys over. Cecilia doesn't seem like she is having fun so she excuses herself and makes her way upstairs. A little while later, a noise is heard and Mrs. Lisbon (Kathleen Turner) and the rest of her daughters and the boys make their way upstairs and out the front door, where Mr. Lisbon (James Woods) is holding Cecilia, who is draped over a fence, the spike in her back. She jumped out of the bedroom window and succeeded in offing herself this time. I found the acting by Kathleen Turner in this part to be just down right pathetic.

Kirsten Dunst plays Lux Lisbon, the second oldest of the Lisbon daughters. After she goes to the homecoming dance with Trip Fontaine (Josh Hartnett) and doesn't arrive home until early morning in a cab, Mr and Mrs, Lisbon pull the rest of their daughters out of school and keep them confined in their house. I guess you can say the girls go mad after awhile. After Morse coding the neighborhood boys across the street, they go over the Lisbon household where Lux is in the living room, smoking a cigarette. She opens the door and tells them the other girls are upstairs and that she will go out to her parents station wagon and wait for them, they plan on going for a ride to get out of the house. But they don't. The boys go down to the basement and one of the girls is their, hanging. Another one over-dosed on sleeping pills, the other one, well...I don't remember and poor little Lux is in the garage, door shut, engine running on the wagon, dead as can be.

Well, la-di-friggin-da. Am I suppose to believe that this is the only means for the Lisbon girls to rebel against their parents? That all 5 of them would choose to end their lives? When you let your daughter go to the dance with someone with a name like Trip Fontaine, you're only asking for trouble. Lux was constantly screwing around with a new guy every night on the roof of her house, as we see all to well from the neighborhood boys scoping her out from the bedroom of one of them with a telescope. Why didn't one of them, LUX, just take off and go somewhere? Maybe it would of made their parents see that, no matter what is going on in the outside world, you can't keep your children confined forever. If Lux can screw around on a rooftop than certainly she can rebel enough to run away somewhere. None of these girls where shackled up, locked in their room. There were no bars on the windows!!! Needless to say, I hated this movie. It left me feeling emptier than a bolemics stomach.
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5/10
Well-packaged, unobtrusive, tastefully done and... without substance
Asa_Nisi_Masa221 September 2005
Sofia Coppola's film is not unlike the music provided by Air for its soundtrack: nice, but a little bit hollow. All in all, I would say I enjoyed this film, just like all in all, I enjoy Air's music when someone puts on one of their CDs during a dinner party (Air is a favourite of many people who have dinner parties that I know). Air's music is immaculately packaged, unobtrusive, tasteful and on the whole, unobjectionable. Coppola's film is exactly the same. Liking Air and liking The Virgin Suicides is, if not a complete, absolute and irrefutable sign of having good taste, at least not a sign of having bad taste, that's for sure. But what exactly was this film about? The meaninglessness, hypocrisy and hollowness of suburbia and "respectable", bourgeois society (a favourite target for many artists). The voyeuristic nature of the media (another popular one). The spontaneity and genuineness of the young (epitomised by Cecilia, the youngest sister in the film), a spontaneity etc which is killed off and sucked dry by the stifling, unwritten rules of respectable, middle-class, white American society. The slow but steady death of nature at the hands of the human race. Yadda yadda. Can I object to any of these themes? No, of course I can't. They're all worthy themes and the film was nowhere near preachy about any of them. Credit to Coppola for that. As I said, this film is very tastefully done. I'm not sure though: The Virgin Suicides could be about some if not all of these things and more besides, yet it remains soft in focus, "airy" (not just in the soundtrack) and somehow, void of substance. Yet I cannot say I wasn't enjoying it as I was watching it, just as I cannot say I haven't enjoyed listening to Air playing in the background at a dinner party. But the enjoyment was never more than skin-deep. And to be honest, though I've been left with nothing negative from this film and the fashionable French band's music, I've also not been left with anything positive either - nothing that lasts, nothing to keep. This is all just... an unobjectionable lack of real substance with a very clever, unobjectionable appearance of substance. All very tastefully done, of course. 5/10
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5/10
A visually beautiful bore
Impeckable3 January 2008
Warning: Spoilers
After viewing this film, I've become interested in reading the book it was adapted from. Not because the movie struck me as a stunning masterpiece, but rather in the hopes the book will do a better job of telling a potentially good story.

Pretty cinematography, settings and music make for some nice eye and ear-candy (not dissimilar to Sofia Coppola's "Marie Antoinette"), but don't help in communicating the plot.

The supposed "mystery" of the Lisbon sisters failed to draw me in. While the subplot ultimately leads to their punishment, too much time was devoted to Lux's relationship with Trip and the time spent locked up in their rooms was not investigated. Apart from Lux, there was no character development and I didn't care for any of the characters.

What mystery was there that plagues neighborhood boys? While the boys became scarred for life, I felt unfulfilled and bored. Honestly, I'd describe this film as a light-hearted flick rather than depressing. 5/10.
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1/10
Sofia Coppola has now wasted 2 nights of my life.
kenhoho-221 May 2000
First in "The Godfather 3", now with "The Virgin Suicides". What was the point of this movie? Was it:

(a) To engage the viewer in the trauma of suicide? I hope not, because we never got to know the girls well enough to care about them -- they came across like zombie-chicks in a Palmolive commercial, always smiling gently but vapidly.

(b) To share in the experience of those who cared about the deceased? Again, I cannot imagine so. The boys across the street cared about them, for sure, but did anyone believe in their passion? They seemed to like the girls simply because the script told them so, not because they were acting like real teenagers act. For example, what actual teen boys would subscribe to travel magazines in order to fantasize about going abroad with the objects of their crushes? Teen boys may fantasize about a lot of things, but picturing girls as Taj Mahal princesses is not one of them.

(c) To show the horror of modern American suburban life? Haven't we seen this before, and better? James Woods played a math teacher who caved into his wife's demands while sporting short-sleeve collared shirts. How unoriginal. Same for Kathleen Turner, who burned her daughter's records and couldn't imagine she didn't love her daughters enough. Been there, seen all that before -- only in non-cliche form.

Coppola's direction was amateurish, as well. The Danny DeVito scenes, for example, should have been placed further apart, and the shot of the boys holding a lighter came across not as the homage of real humans, but more like the encore of a 1984 Night Ranger concert.
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1/10
Sub-Par Snob of a Movie Masquerades as a Think-Piece
hchiu6 December 2000
The virgin suicides tries to be a thought provoking movie by being slow and boring. One might try to find a surprise conclusion as to why each of the daughters committed suicide besides the obvious fact that the parents were very strict disciplinaries. The odd thing is that normal teens would not be as submissive but instead retaliate such strict rules.

The character's never get fully developed and much of the questions are left unanswered. Why is the mother so deep into religion that she becomes out of touch with reality and the father so helpless to act. If suicide is the answer for imprisoned souls then it is indeed sad. But the problem is that there were not enough examples of the mother treating her children in such cruel ways to justify the imprisoning of their souls and gave them such hopelessness to drive them to sub-sequential suicides. Yes, we do see obvious symbolism to their imprisonment but badly placed such as the gas mask choke party held by the locals. Suicides were merely used as shock value because the director had no good ideas on how to develop the plot to a climax much like an action movie using explosions and car chases as a gimmick to further the plot. Because that is the only time that I questioned why in the beginning. Why did that girl commit suicide? Why the hopelessness?

In the end this movie is slow, boring, and amateurish. Slow because the characters did not act out the conflicts. Boring because nothing amusing happens but instead the director forces you to think by placing obvious symbolisms. If you want me to think, the director should at least offer me something amusing in return. Instead, teenage suicide became the only visual gimmick (which visually could have been so much more) that the director had to offer. This whole movie does resemble a scene in the thought provoking film, "American Beauty". The scene of the plastic bag twirling around in the wind because that seems to be the only essence that Sophia Coppola was capable of capturing much like her acting, amateurish. On a scale of 1 to 10, I would give Virgin Suicides a -5 for being snobbish and -5 for insulting my intelligence. A total score of -10
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8/10
Tragic, Morbid and Disturbing Theme Explored with Extreme Sensibility
Claudio Carvalho8 March 2006
In 1974, in Michigan, the lives of a group of teenage boys are affected by the suicide of five girls from the Lisbon family. Cecilia (13) (Hanna Hall), Lux (14) (Kirsten Dunst), Bonnie (15) (Chelse Swain), Mary (16) (A.J. Cook) and Therese (17) (Leslie Hayman) move with their Mathematics teacher father Mr. Lisbon (James Wood) and their possessive housewife mother Mrs. Lisbon (Kathleen Turner) to a calm suburb house. Their beauties attract the attention of a group of boys that meet in the house on the other side to watch the girls. When Cecilia commits suicide, the girls stay at home for a period, returning to school later. When the handsome football player Trip Fontaine (Josh Hartnett) seduces Lux and spends the night outside with her, Mrs. Lisbon locks the girls at home, leading them to commit massive suicide.

The first time I saw this movie was on 15 October 2001, and I was impressed with the magnificent debut of Sofia Coppola as a director. Yesterday I saw "The Suicide Virgins" again and I keep my first impression. Sofia Coppola uses the opposite style of her sensationalist father, and explores with extreme sensibility this tragic, morbid and disturbing theme, the suicide of teenagers. The behavior of the American society is subtly criticized, through the condemned action of the press and the lack of attitude from the neighbors and school community, since these agents see and comment the abnormal behavior of the Lisbon family and take no attitude to help the girls. The nostalgic music score, with classics from the 70s, is another plus. With regard to the charismatic team of actors and actresses, their performances are simply stunning. Five years later, it calls the attention the modifications mainly in Josh Hartnett, who I believe was participating of his first important movie: he was a practically unknown teenager, and now is a famous adult actor. Kathleen Turner, from the sexy and gorgeous Matty Walker/Mary Ann Russell of "Body Heat" (1981) to this awful Mrs. Lisbon, is also impressive. "The Suicide Virgins" is a movie that deserves to be watched many times. My vote is eight.

Title (Brazil): "As Virgens Suicidas" ("The Suicide Virgins")
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6/10
A well crafted movie but the storytelling is lacking.
Boba_Fett113810 December 2005
"The Virgin Suicides" is a sort of mixed bag. It's a beautiful made movie with wonderful directed sequences in it but the storytelling doesn't always makes sense and is simply terrible lacking at times. A case of 'style over substance' you can perhaps conclude.

It isn't always clear in the movie where the movie is heading to. This is mainly because there are often characters introduced in the movie, who once after they are out of the story, make you wonder what exactly their purpose for the movie was. Characters come and go in this movie and once you think that they are going to play an important part for the movie, they are already gone again. The story isn't always told from the right perspective which makes this movie at times a bit incoherent to watch. This is also due to the fact that at times the movie is set in 'present time' (1999), while the rest of the movie is set in the '70's. Those sort of scene's make it pretty obvious that this movie is based on a book. I'm sure all those element worked just fine in the book but for a movie it is pointless and adds no extra value to the story. A lot of things still remain unclear after the movie has ended, which makes this movie as a whole an unsatisfying one to watch.

I also never really got into the characters. I never quite knew what went on in those girls heads and I never felt their desperateness and their cry for help. The portrayal of their parents (James Woods and Kathleen Turner) was also a opportunity wasted. Instead as strict and tough parents they are portrayed as simply narrow minded people, who have their own ideas about what's good and wrong for their children. If they had portrayed the parents as two completely strict and tough persons, the movie would had become more, claustrophobic, sensible, emotional and more understandable.

The cast is good and has cameos in it from Danny DeVito and Scott Glenn and roles from Josh Hartnett and Hayden Christensen before they received real fame as actors. The movie however isn't really a character movie. The main essence of the movie is put on the style and look of it. For that reason the movie also perhaps feels a bit as a waste of a great cast.

The movie is good looking and well directed by Sofia Coppola but it seemed that they forget about the story at times. It makes "The Virgin Suicides" a bit of an incoherent movie to watch at times. Because of the lacking storytelling the movie never truly becomes emotional or truly understandable and therefor it's nothing more than a just average drama that is good looking but nothing more than that.

6/10

http://bobafett1138.blogspot.com/
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1/10
One of the Worst Book to Film Adaptations Imaginable
kevin-119911 January 2007
This adaptation of the book is hardly worth a mention. I'm only writing because I was so appalled by it watching it the second time (the first being in the theater some years back). Watching it last evening, I couldn't get through the first sixty minutes and had to turn it off (this rarely happens). The book, which I'd read between my first viewing and the ill-fated second, is an amazing exploration of the decay of an American era and the explosive domestic drama that results thereof, in a world where physical reality and society (personified in the film by the Church primarily) collide. It is a book about men and our inability to access women, thus also our emotionally "gooey" sides. It is a tragedy in that great tradition, so much so that the tragedy within the narrative transcends the narrative itself to comment on a greater tragedy... which is what good art can do.

But we get none of that from this train wreck of an adaptation. Which is really a shame.

Coppola instead opted to present a nostalgic view of an era, lingering on what I think are meant to be humorous shots of out-of-date cars and suburbia... bored moments of awkwardness... first kisses... Basically it looks like an after school special or a long but semi-serious episode of Saved by the Bell. She presents a view that (and this is the great failure) sympathizes clearly with the inscrutable sisters when the text of the book in no way even accesses the character of these sisters. That's the problem. These girls aren't supposed to be sympathetic. They're inscrutable. Lux isn't a heroine, which she's clearly made into through this film. She's not some kind of grand dame answer to sexual repression. She's the victim of it.

This is a book about young men, and men of age, trying to understand their world through the collective totem of the Lisbon sisters. Emphasis on "totem." It is not an after school special romanticizing the supposed dreaminess of female adolescence. Ultimately, this isn't a film or book that women should appreciate any more than men or men more than women - it's a human story about men trying to understand women, not women's supposed superiority over male ignorance.

Really, thinking on it: it's a story of how girls age more quickly than boys. Most boys are awkward and clumsy at 14 (granted, well portrayed in the film) when many girls are quite grown into their adult shapes and can attract men far older than themselves, rendering them dangerous when coupled with the "off-limits" element. This is a physiological reality that comes into conflict with the values of a society. This reality isn't a male or female reality. It's a human reality, inasmuch as there exists filial and legislative restriction against premarital and youthful intercourse. But in this movie there is none of that nuance.

Instead we see a clear, banal, crude sympathy for the suicidal girls. That is a failure, particularly considering the book is written - self-deprecatingly, at times, of course, but still written - by the male characters who, I should mention, don't despise men as much as this movie presents. They admit male foolishness and adore the memory of these young women, but they aren't self-loathing. Neither do they sympathize with the girls. They can't. They don't understand them. So the film shouldn't presume to enter that landscape, which is clearly not laid out by the book. There is room for a film-maker to embellish upon a narrative, but for a Freshman who clearly didn't get the text she was reading, this spells train wreck.

We could have been told a story about gender in America and the post-sexual revolution landscape as it related to a decaying Detroit. That would have been nice. Instead of the story the book presents, this film adaptation presents a systematic misandry lacking any nuance or creativity or artistic merit. Better had David Lynch directed this film than Sofia Coppola, who's going to have to do a lot more than put Bill and Scarlett in a room together to convince me she's a real directorial talent and to make up for her performance in the Godfather III, which was the pinnacle of celluloid dross and artistically unforgivable.

Last words: don't bother. Give the book a read.
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1/10
EXTREMELY DISAPPOINTING
gern_b31 July 2000
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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1/10
Just like adolescence...
MarshallStax16 May 2001
...this movie is awkward and interminable! An absolutely pretentious piece of twaddle defined by both a lack of focus and a failure to present believable characters, "The Virgin Suicides" is ample proof (if any was needed) that nepotism will get you everywhere in show business. This film suffers from a lack of point-of-view (I dare you to define who the protagonist really is) and, even more importantly, a lack of point! We are never made to care one whit for the lives (or deaths) of the Lisbon sisters, nor are we shown any traits that make us interested in the creepily voyeuristic boys who adore them for no ascertainable reason. From the pretentious voice-overs to the first-year film school blocking of scenes, this is an amazing waste of time and resources. "The Virgin Suicides" must certainly be in the running for worst film ever made. And Sophia Coppola, already reviled as an actress, has proved she can't direct, either. See "Lost in Translation", a nausea inducing movie about a crybaby child of privilege meeting a washed up actor with no amount of charm at all, for further reference.
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Vacuous Drivel
JoeK-23 July 2000
What did I learn from nearly two hours in the theater? Was it that "Neighborhood boys discover their sexuality and delve into the mysteries of womanhood through their friendships with five sisters"? A resounding no! I did learn that if you have a cruel, repressed and possibly religious mother all hell can break loose and the children may commit suicide, rather than stay locked up in their rooms for all eternity.

Nothing in the film struck me as being true (except possibly John Woods' performance). The dialogue was trite, bordering on embarassing. Apart from the suicides, the story is hackneyed and lacking in any insights. The boys who ponder the circumstances of the sisters' deaths have nothing to add to the movie. Even they say that after 20 or so years they have no answers to the haunting questions surrounding the suicides. So what is the point?

Give me a break. One of the very worst movies I've seen - ever.
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