In suburban 1970’s America, five dreamy sisters are quarantined away from social interaction when their youngest sister commits suicide. Their doomed fates indelibly mark the neighborhood boys who obsess over them.
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Sofia Coppola’s brilliant first feature, the poetic, tragic and enigmatic The Virgin Suicides, captures the ambiguity of such hazy recollections with tender, albeit, at times, horrifying wistfulness and pain.
Coppola tells the story with a great deal of sympathy for the boys who remain marked for life by their encounters with the Lisbons, while nonetheless revealing their ongoing delusions with wit and insight.
In the hazy, dreamy, poisonous world of The Virgin Suicides, language is limiting, even imprisoning, while greater, more profound truths lie beyond narration, in the visual, in the experiential, the imaginative.
"Obviously, doctor, you've never been a 13-year-old girl"—thus a career was launched. Yes, it's easy to get green-lit if you're a Coppola, but talent is talent, and Sofia already had a dreamy eye for emotive imagery. Whether she has a masterpiece of substantive wisdom to match it is something I'm not sure the last 20 years have answered. But it's lovely to see a close-up on girls' lives done with a woman's savvy.
Detached to the point of distraction this is a competently assured account of a period, mood and tone but not much approaching satisfactory drama. Not that one needs things laid on with a trowel but it’s clear early on that this will remain airily evasive to the last instead relying on a too-varied panoply of masking techniques rather than a firm grip on storytelling.
After all these years, I decided on a 2nd viewing of The Virgin Suicides to challenge my former indifference when I first saw it at 18. Everyone seemed to love it, except for me! If anything changed it was only for the worst; It magnified the futile vacuity of its content - a pretty pastel colored portrait of teen anxiety and sacrificed youth gazed at through the "cool" lens and numb eyes of Coppola's vision.
A strong debut, but an imperfect one. The young Coppola has mastered the techniques but doesn't always know when or how to apply them. As such there's an over indulgence, where 'form' overwhelms 'content.' At its best, the dreamy & ethereal scenes of the girls against the landscape evoke the influence of Picnic at Hanging Rock, but also become a precursor to the director's subsequent masterpiece, Marie Antoinette.
Coppola's best film. It clearly shows the danger of well-intentioned but ultimately oppressive and repressive religious authoritarianism/conservatism and is also a polemical evaluation of the fraught nature of female adolescence. A very sad film, and also a compelling take on gender politics.
I absolutely loved this film. It was the only time I've seen a movie, where I realized just how I will never be able to fully understand the psychology of any woman. I feel like my opinion on this film is completely invalid compared to any female's opinion on it. Absolutely wonderful. Liked it a lot more than Lost in Translation. It's also a beauty to see on 35mm!
coppola asserts herself as the closest descendent of antonioni, america will ever see. she has created a film about the sadness, the ennui, the displacement and isolation of the growth of a modern life. coppolas recurring motif of the values of a social elite is key again. she has a very stylish visual form, yet with a real content and conscience too. one of a handful of true auteurs.
I've been haunted by this film for years, now I see it in its entirety and it's nothing. There are great moments of innocence here (the homecoming dance, the morning football field, the dialogue of vinyls), but The Virgin Suicides never succeeds at tackling its central subjects. It chooses to keep an aura of mystery in the middle of suburban clichés, and the illusion is very thin.