The Virgin Suicides (Sofia Coppola, USA, 1999)

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Sofia Coppola’s first film. The title’s such a turn-off that I avoided it until 2012. I thought it would be depressing but it’s not: I was a fool. It’s an engaging and humorous work with a real feel for teenage female desire and angst. ‘What are you doing here honey’, says a doctor to one of the sisters after a suicide attempt, ‘you’re not even old enough to know how bad life gets’. ‘Obviously Doctor, you’ve never been a thirteen-year old girl’. The situation and humour are slightly dark but the story is told with a welcome light touch throughout. The film’s  got depth too: the scene where Trip (Josh Hartnett) leaves Lux (Kirsten Dunst) in the football field without being able to quite comprehend it himself is one of many examples. Plus Coppola’s direction allows for  other pleasures: the callow attractiveness of Josh, the real beauty and skill of Kirsten, James Wood for once underplaying, and a suddenly aged Kathleen Turner, all marvellous. It’s beautifully directed but still falls apart at the suicide. What leads up to it is not quite conveyed. Surely being treated badly by a boy and not being allowed out for a while by their parents is not sufficient cause for it  otherwise so many more of us would be dead. Still, it’s a delight  to see a work of such skill and feeling from a first time director.

José Arroyo

2 thoughts on “The Virgin Suicides (Sofia Coppola, USA, 1999)

    vinnieh said:
    April 27, 2013 at 4:38 pm

    Excellent review, I love the music in this film.

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    […] a set of themes she constantly returns to: what contemporary culture feels like to a girl (e.g. The Virgin Suicides), the pleasure and power of pretty things in a shallow world (Marie Antoinette), but also what a […]

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