The Virgin Suicides (1999)


So much has been said about the girls over the years. But we have never found an answer. It didn’t matter in the end how old they had been, or that they were girls… but only that we had loved them… and that they hadn’t heard us calling… still do not hear us calling them from out of those rooms… where they went to be alone for all time… and where we will never find the pieces to put them back together.

— Narrator

Sofia Coppola’s feature film debut The Virgin Suicides has flew under my radar for years. With the subtle title like this, you know there will be multiple characters that will commit suicide. The review will have spoilers to explain the entire story. At the end of story, what was the message of the movie?

Based on the novel by Jeffrey Eugenides, the action takes place in the summer of 1974 where the hypercritical, ultra-conservative Catholic parents Mr. and Mrs. Libson, (James Woods, Kathleen Turner) have been overly protective on their five daughters; Cecilia, Lux, Bonnie, Mary and Therese (Hanna Hall, Kirsten Dunst, Chelse Swain, A.J. Cook, Leslie Hayman).

Giovanni Ribisi narrates the movie after the fact. He tries to piece together the events that lead to the titular suicides of that particular summer.

The youngest daughter, Cecilia is found in the bathtub with her wrists slit. Found beside her is a tarot card of The Virgin Mary with the movie number inscribed on it, “555-MARY.” The neighborhood is gossiping about why she did it. The family is sent into a tailspin. Cecilia is sent to therapist, Dr. Horniker (Danny DeVito) to figure out what is wrong with her.

The doctor concludes that her suicide attempt was a cry out for help. He suggests having a social gathering outside of school. The parents relent to have a small party in the basement of the house. The party in her honor, but Cecilia is still not having fun and wants to be excused. Few moments later, Cecilia finally kills herself by impaling herself on the iron fence in the front yard.

The parents think that overprotect the girls from the world would help them be safe, but their actions are driving them away. Lux is the rebellious girl out of the group. She wants to be like the typical teenager, but she can’t. The popular guy at school, Trip Fountaine (Josh Hartnett) wants to be with her. She plays coy.

Until one day at the prom, they hook up. The parental units put the girls under makeshift house arrest. With nothing to do, the girls were left with no other choice.

Not being aware of this plot of the movie, except for the title, I thought that there would be a pact between the kids to commit suicide. That didn’t exactly happen. The aesthetic on the movie was reminiscent of the seventies with the golden yellow hues filling the frame. I appreciated that. What’s up with the extreme close-ups of Kirsten’s Dunst’s face? Was there supposed to be a correlation between the diseased trees getting cut down in the neighborhood and the suicides? Subtle. I have one final question. When Lux and Trip hooked up, did they have sex? ‘Cause the title wouldn’t apply to her.

Judgment: An interesting take on teenage angst, but it leaves you confused.

Rating: **1/2


About Branden

Branden: I am just your average movie nut that reviews films. Gives his take on pop culture and Hollywood happenings. Dreams to have his own thriving website and make a living doing what he is passionate about.

Posted on November 15, 2009, in 1999, Drama, Independent, Mystery and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Really didn’t like this film – partially because so many people who purported to love movies loved it.

    My thoughts on what it was about? The world that was constantly poisoned and polluted led to the “inexplicable” deaths of the trees. The world was polluted and poisoned all around the girls and led them to killing themselves. The world around them was a barometer for their misery. I think it clicked with me when they showed that scene of the dinner party with everyone wearing gas masks. The signs that the girls were heading for disaster were all around, people were just oblivious to them.

    In the end, the ambiguity was probably due to the fact that she’s not that great a filmmaker. Marie Antoinette confirmed it.

  2. good points made on this film. can’t help but still love the aesthetic of the it though. i read the book and in doing so, enjoyed this movie a lot more!

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