The Virgin Suicides

Kirsten Dunst, Josh Hartnett, A.J. Cook, Hanna Hall, Kathleen Turner
Directed by Sofia Coppola
Rating: C

Neighborhood boys obsess over five sisters and what it means to be a teenage girl. The Lisbon girls are aged a year apart and because of their strict upbringing are not allowed to date. They live under a matriarchal household where their sympathetic father tries to get them the little bit of freedom every teenager deserves.

After the suicide of their youngest sister, Cecilia (Hall), Mrs. Lisbon fears for her daughters well-being but fails to keep a careful watch of their actions in her home. Lux (Dunst), the second youngest, is a “loose” girl and makes out with boys on her roof. If only her mother knew. When their high school homecoming dance is mentioned, Mrs. Lisbon gives them a hard “no” to attend but with the help of their father, convinces oh mother dearest to let them go. Lux’s disobedience of curfew makes Mrs. Lisbon go crazy, pulling her daughters out of school for two weeks without contact of anyone from outside their house. The neighborhood boys, ever so watchful with their telescope across the street, learn the use of Morse code and help the daughters out.

Its through the eyes of these boys that we see the Lisbon girls. It’s their biases and dreams that influence our opinion of the girls. When the girls subscribe to travel magazines they order the same so they can imagine exploring the world together. Only one of the boys ever got close enough to one of the Lisbon girls and his name was Trip. He was a ladies man, and Lux was immune to his charm at first. Eventually she flirts back instead of avoiding eye contact, and the two go to homecoming together. When they sneak off to have sex on the football field he walks home in the middle of the night, leaving her sleeping on the field. He’s disillusioned, though he narrates that he will never have a love like Lux again. When he doesn’t contact Lux again she is left wondering what went wrong, though it’s beyond anything she could have done to repair his relationship with her.

The later deaths of the Lisbon sisters (mentioned in the beginning of the movie) all at once wasn’t convincing enough for me. While excuses piled up throughout the movie: strict mother, sadness over the death of a young sister, no dating in their lives; we don’t see enough of the older sisters to understand their reason to commit suicide. Before getting into The Virgin Suicides I wondered if this was the kind of movie that would leave me feeling depressed. It’s not an easy topic one can sit through, but by this ending I found myself unsatisfied with the ending. The movie aims to feel like a coming-of-age story, where these boys try to unravel the mystery of the female nature. Instead, it could have tried harder maybe by extending its length of 90-minutes to a full two hours by giving other perspectives of the older Lisbon girls.

The Virgin Suicides is based on a book by Jeffrey Eugenides and like most book-to-movies, is better if you read the book first. I have read praise out there on the web for the movie following close to the book from details to taking most of the lines. Otherwise, it just is an okay movie despite hearing about it mentioned in some YA books.

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