The Virgin Suicides

"Very Good"

The Virgin Suicides Review


The Virgin Suicides is a dark comedy that embodies some twisted views on suburban family life and the true lack innocence of adolescence. First-time writer and director Sofia Coppola, daughter of Godfather creator Francis Ford Coppola, proves to us that she's not really an actress (see The Godfather Part III), but that she does have the family knack for provocative movie directing. The movie is based upon Jeffrey Eugenides' novel, The Virgin Suicides, a detective story about five sisters who mysteriously commit suicide and the investigation by four neighborhood boys who had fallen in love with them. Coppola, however, transforms the movie into her own allegory of five adolescent girls who suffer from ruthlessly suppressed lives, their desperate plea for self-expression, and the tragedy that besets their wretched existence.

Set in the mid-seventies, the plot follows the Lisbon family, with James Woods, a physics teacher at the local high school, as the scatter brained father, and Kathleen Turner as the uncommonly strict mother. Their five daughters are beautiful, naturally blonde, and the desire of every boy in the neighborhood. When the youngest, Cecilia, mysteriously attempts suicide, psychiatrist Danny Devito recommends that she be allowed to interact more socially, especially with boys. So the Lisbon girls are introduced to the boys of the neighborhood, who have already been watching the girls from afar through half-opened window shades, binoculars, and telescopes. At a party in Cecilia's honor, the boys witness a tragedy that shocks them out of their wits. As a result, the Lisbons fall into a deep suppression shutting out the rest of the world by retreating into their own inner sanctum. It appears they will never recover until Trip Fontaine (Josh Hartnett), the high school heartthrob, pursues the unattainable Lux (Kirsten Dunst). He attempts to ask her to the prom, but the only way her mother will allow him to take Lux is if all the girls go together. For the first time, the girls will venture out of the home to interact socially in an environment other than school.

The movie begins as a lighthearted comedy with some great cameos from the likes of DeVito and town priest Scott Glenn (Backdraft). The tone, however, turns somber once the children are exposed to the worst of their suppression. Kathleen Turner as mom reverts to her Serial Mom days, making the kids burn their rock records and even withdrawing them from school. Reminiscent of 1987's Flowers in the Attic, the children are forced to fantasize through travel guides, imagining a different life in faraway lands. With every avenue of self-expression cut off, the girls suffocate in their misery and cry out for help to the boys in the neighborhood.

The film, with its large ensemble cast, is well acted, and director Coppola gets the best out of old pros Woods and Turner, while at the same time coaxing solid performances out of her young cast, especially Dunst and Hartnett. On the flip side, what the film lacks is solid character development. We don't learn enough about any of the neighborhood boys, or the strict Lisbon parents, or the mysterious Trip Fontaine. Constantly floating from one sequence of events to the next, I was left with too many unanswered questions as to whether the story was a mystery about what drove the girls off the edge, or how the neighborhood boys became so fascinated with them. Either way, it takes away some of the film's appeal with no "real" characters to latch on to in order to help you through such a bizarre and fantastic situation.

Despite its flaws, The Virgin Suicides is a success. It's an eerie look at life with a sick twist of fate for five beautiful sisters with the world as their oyster. With this film, Sofia Coppola will strike a presence for herself on the Hollywood scene -- no longer to be known for her infamous role as Michael Corleone's daughter. Ford Coppola was criticized for casting Sofia in that role, but now he will be praised for helping to produce his daughter's beautiful film.

Dance into the fire.



The Virgin Suicides

Facts and Figures

Run time: 97 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 26th April 2000

Box Office Worldwide: $10.4M

Budget: $6M

Distributed by: Paramount Pictures

Production compaines: American Zoetrope

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 76%
Fresh: 72 Rotten: 23

IMDB: 7.2 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Lux Lisbon, as Mr. Lisbon, as Mrs. Lisbon, as Trip Fontaine, as Mary Lisbon, as Therese Lisbon, as Bonnie Lisbon, Anthony DeSimone as Chase Buell, as Father Moody, as Dr. Horniker, Lee Kagan as David Barker, as Paul Baldino, as Tim Weiner, as Joe Hill Conley, as Narrator, as Cecilia Lisbon, as Dominic Palazzolo

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Colossal Movie Review

Colossal Movie Review

It's rare to find a movie that so defiantly refuses to be put into a...

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

It's unlikely that Guy Ritchie could make a boring movie if he wanted to. This...

Snatched Movie Review

Snatched Movie Review

It doesn't really matter that the script for this lively action-comedy is paper thin: teaming...

Jawbone Movie Review

Jawbone Movie Review

Boxing movies aren't usually this thoughtful. Sure, there are plenty of punchy moments in the...

Whisky Galore! Movie Review

Whisky Galore! Movie Review

Scottish filmmaker Gillies MacKinnon (Hideous Kinky) remakes the 1949 Ealing comedy classic, although it's difficult...

Alien: Covenant Movie Review

Alien: Covenant Movie Review

Master filmmaker Ridley Scott is back to continue the story 10 years after the events...

The Journey (2017) Movie Review

The Journey (2017) Movie Review

A fictionalised account of real events, this drama is reminiscent of Peter Morgan's work in...

Advertisement
Sleepless Movie Review

Sleepless Movie Review

In remaking the 2011 French thriller Sleepless Night, the filmmakers have dumbed down both the...

Unlocked Movie Review

Unlocked Movie Review

By injecting a steady sense of fun, this slick but mindless action thriller both holds...

Lady Macbeth Movie Review

Lady Macbeth Movie Review

A seriously impressive feature directing debut with a star-making central performance, this period British drama...

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

It was never going to be easy to match the impact of 2014's Guardians of...

The Promise Movie Review

The Promise Movie Review

The director of Hotel Rwanda, Terry George, turns to another humanitarian horror: the systematic murder...

Their Finest Movie Review

Their Finest Movie Review

Skilfully written, directed and acted, this offbeat British period film tells a story that catches...

Unforgettable Movie Review

Unforgettable Movie Review

With heavy echoes of trashy thrillers like Fatal Attraction, this movie overcomes its painfully simplistic...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.