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The Virgin Suicides is a 1999 Americanmarker film written and directed by Sofia Coppola, starring James Woods, Kathleen Turner, Kirsten Dunst and Josh Hartnett. Based on the novel by Jeffrey Eugenides, the film tells of the suicides of the five Lisbon sisters in an upper middle class suburb of Detroitmarker during the 1970s. The girls' suicides fascinate their community as their neighbors struggle to find an explanation for the acts.

Plot

The story takes place in Grosse Pointe, Michiganmarker in the early 1970s, as four neighbourhood boys reflect on their neighbours, the five Lisbon sisters. Beautiful but strictly unattainable due to their overprotective, authoritarian and religious isolating parents, Therese, Mary, Bonnie, Lux, and Cecilia Lisbon are the enigmas that fill the boys' dreams.

The film begins with the suicide attempt of the youngest sister, Cecilia, and the immediate aftermath. During a chaperoned party that summer — intended to make Cecilia feel better — Cecilia excuses herself mid-party and finally succeeds in taking her life by jumping out of her bedroom window and impaling herself on an iron fence. In the wake of her act, the Lisbon family isolate themselves even more within their community, heightening the sense of mystery about them.

The new school year starts that fall and Lux forms a secret relationship with Trip Fontaine, the school heartthrob. Trip eventually persuades Mr. Lisbon to allow him to take Lux to the Homecoming dance (by promising to find dates for the other sisters and go as a group). After being crowned Homecoming King and Queen, Lux loses her virginity to Trip on the football field that night. Trip abandons her immediately afterwards.

Having broken curfew, Lux and her sisters are punished by a furious Mrs. Lisbon by being taken out of school and sequestered within their house indefinitely. Unable to leave their home, the Lisbon sisters contact the boys using light signals, and share songs over the phone as a means of communicating their emotions back and forth.

During this time, Lux begins to have anonymous sexual encounters on the roof of the house late at night, while the boys watch from across the street. Finally, after months of confinement, the Lisbon girls signal for the boys to come over one night — presumably to help them escape from the house. When the boys arrive, they find Lux smoking a cigarette alone in the living room. She invites them inside to wait for her sisters, while she herself goes to wait in the car.

The boys wander into the basement and discover a body hanging from the ceiling; terrified, they rush back out of the house. In the process, they stumble across the bodies of the remaining Lisbon sisters, who had all killed themselves in an apparent suicide pact moments before: Therese took sleeping pills, Bonnie hanged herself in the basement, Mary stuck her head in the gas oven, and Lux died of carbon monoxide poisoning by leaving the car engine running in the garage.

Devastated by the suicides of all their children, Mr. and Mrs. Lisbon quietly flee the neighbourhood, never to return. The Lisbon house is sold soon after, along with all their personal belongings. Though the adults in the community go about their lives as if nothing important really happened, the dead girls remain a source of mystery and grief for the boys, who cannot forget them.

Cast



Reception

The film was generally well-received by critics, it has a 76/100 Metacritic rating. The New York Post heaped praise on the film; "It's hard to remember a film that mixes disparate, delicate ingredients with the subtlety and virtuosity of Sofia Coppola's brilliant The Virgin Suicides." The Philadelphia Inquirer outlined its attributes; "There's a melancholy sweetness here, a gentle humor that speaks to the angst and awkwardness of girls turning into women, and the awe of boys watching the transformation from afar."

Score and soundtrack

The film's score featured two tracks by the Frenchmarker electronic band Air, including "Playground Love". The film soundtrack featured songs by 1970s-era performers and by (90's) Sloan. A separate soundtrack album was released, featuring music from Heart and Todd Rundgren.

Mentioned in the credits (chronologically):

References

  1. The Virgin Suicides is Hayman's only film credit. She is a long time friend of the director, Sofia Coppola, and was given a part in the movie for this reason. She can also be seen in The Flaming Lips' promo for "This Here Giraffe" which was also directed by Coppola.
  2. The Virgin Suicides is Kagan's only film credit.
  3. The Virgin Suicides Metacritic


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