The Virgin Suicides (1999)


The Virgin Suicides Storyline

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 do – and Trip Fontaine, he who could have any girl he wanted but wanting solely Lux.

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The Virgin Suicides Movie Reviews

A well crafted movie but the storytelling is lacking.

“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.


A beautiful debut from Sofia Coppola

Having loved Lost in Translation, though I had mixed views on Marie Antoinette, I was interested in watching Coppola’s debut film. And what a beautiful film it is. I do consider Lost in Translation a marginally better film, but The Virgin Suicides is extremely good.

What did I love most about it? Firsly, the gorgeous visuals. The production design is splendid and very evocative and the cinematography captures it perfectly as well as the quiet symbolism. The music by Air has a really pleasant lilt to it and never does it feel out of place with the mood.

Kirsten Dunst, in a performance that I feel has only been matched by her performance in Melancholia, is exceptional, and so is that of the cocky(in the film that is) and incredibly handsome Josh Hartnett. Great actors like James Woods, Kathaleen Turner and Danny DeVito also give noteworthy performances.

Coppola deserves credit here. She may have been savaged by critics for her performance in Godfather Part III, and I am afraid I am one of those who didn’t like it very much, but I love how she bounced back and won me over with a beautifully directed and thoughtfully written film.

The Virgin Suicides may be thoughtful and melancholic in tone, but a lot of it is very poignant as well. The story is deliberately glacial in place which added actually to the film’s beauty, and is very whimsical, maybe too much in places but overall it was effective.

All in all, a beautiful and great film. 9/10 Bethany Cox

ethereal haunted teenage dream

25 years ago in an affluent Detroit suburb, math teacher Ronald Lisbon (James Woods) and his wife (Kathleen Turner) have five beautiful girls. The neighborhood boys led by Tim Winer are all fascinated by them. The youngest Cecilia (Hanna Hall) tries to kill herself. Psychiatrist Dr. Horniker (Danny DeVito) tells the strict parents to let the girls interact with boys. They throw a party for the girls but Cecilia throws herself out the window impaling on the iron fence spikes. Father Moody (Scott Glenn) tries to comfort the family. Cecilia haunts everybody. Lux Lisbon (Kirsten Dunst) is the most outgoing and catches the eye of hunky Trip Fontaine (Josh Hartnett). Lux and the sisters Mary (A.J. Cook), Therese (Leslie Hayman) and Bonnie (Chelse Swain) would always hang out together. After a night out, the girls are kept inside with little outside contact.

Sofia Coppola brings a floating sad mysterious moodiness to the movie. She creates an unique dreamy vibe. The girls are fascinating but like the neighborhood boys, they remain a mystery throughout the movie to me. They feel like something imaginary that one can’t get a hold of. That is very fascinating but after awhile, it’s also very tiresome. We are forever outsiders looking in. I love the music, the mood and the style but I still want more.