Movie Mom

Movie Mom


The Virgin Suicides

posted by rkumar
B
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Profanity:Brief language
Nudity/Sex:A theme of the movie is sexual longing and repression, teen has indiscriminate sex
Alcohol/Drugs:Teen drinking and smoking, teen smokes pot constantly, develops substance abuse problem
Violence/Scariness:Theme of suicide is very upsetting, few explicit images
Diversity Issues:All-white middle class setting
Movie Release Date:2000

Five exquisitely beautiful sisters dazzle and beguile the boys around them in this movie, set in the mid-1970’s. Amid the idyllic suburban stillness, there are intimations that all is not right. Huge elm trees are diagnosed with Dutch Elm Disease and ordered to be cut down. And the youngest of the Lisbon girls, only 13, tries to kill herself. The doctor shakes his head, “You’re not even old enough to know how bad life gets.” She looks up at him, sadly, wrists wrapped in white gauze, “Obviously, doctor, you’ve never been a 13 year old girl.”

A quarter of a century has passed, but the boys who longed for the Lisbon sisters cannot forget them. They hold on to relics and totems: a diary, scribbled notes decorated with hearts and stickers. And they tell each other over and over the events of that time, hoping that this time they will make sense.

There is no explanation for the unthinkably terrible act, and the movie does not try to provide one. Like the boys, we pore over their lives, looking for a point at which they might have made a different choice.

First-time director Sophia Coppola, who also wrote the screenplay, based on the book by Jeffrey Eugenides, has a wonderful eye for detail and composition. The production design is perfect in every detail. There are painfully accurate moments as teenagers try to make conversation (“How’d your SATs go?” “You’re a stone fox!”) and connection (when the boys finally call the girls on the phone, all they can bring themselves to do is play records to them). The narration, beautifully read by Giovanni Ribisi, is lyrical and moving. But ultimately, the movie falters. It tries for metaphor — those dying elm trees, an asphyxiation-themed debutante party at which people wear gas masks decorated with glitter, the girls as princesses in a tower waiting for princes who cannot save them. And it tries for distance from its time or milieu. But like the collection of ephemera the boys hold onto for years, the movie has “not life, but the most trivial list of mundane facts.”

Kirsten Dunst is marvelous as the most adventuresome of the girls, and Josh Hartnett is fine as the high school hunk with a broken heart for every puka shell around his neck.

Parents should know that the movie’s theme may be very upsetting to teen-agers, some of whom may think it suggests that suicide is a romantic and powerful response to overly strict parents. In addition to the overall theme of sexual longing and repression, there are some sexual references and situations. One character smokes pot constantly (he is shown as an adult in a treatment center for substance abuse). Teenagers smoke and drink.

Families who see the movie should talk about what has and has not changed since the 1970’s, about why the girls were such an endless source of fascination for the boys, about why the response of the community seemed so heartless to the boys, and, of course, what could have led the girls to take their own lives and who, if anyone could have prevented it.

Other movies about the anguish of teenagers coping with longing and frustration include “Splendor in the Grass,” “Picnic,” and “Lucas.”



Previous Posts

Fifty Years of Fiddler on the Roof
The Yiddish-language stories of Sholem Alechim, collected as Tevye the Dairyman and The Railroad Stories (Library of Yiddish Classics), inspired one of the most successful, influential, and widely performed Broadway musicals of all time, "Fiddler on the Roof," which opened fifty years ago this week.

posted 8:00:47am Sep. 20, 2014 | read full post »

Great Cinematographers on Instagram
Indiewire has a gorgeous array of Instagram feeds from Hollywood cinematographers. Be sure to talke a look so you can follow them.

posted 8:00:27am Sep. 19, 2014 | read full post »

De-fictionalizing Products in Movies and Television: Life Imitating Art
Fast Company has an article about Omni Consumer Products, a "de-fictionalizing" company that looks for products in movies and television that do not really exist and makes them available. As the sole proprietor of Omni Consumer Products, [Pete] Hottelet is constantly scanning the pop culture z

posted 8:00:17am Sep. 19, 2014 | read full post »

Tusk
You can make a good movie about slackers, for example "Slackers," from Richard Linklater and "Clerks" from Kevin Smith. But you can't make a good movie by a slacker, and Smith does not seem wi

posted 5:59:40pm Sep. 18, 2014 | read full post »

This is Where I Leave You
A toddler carries his little potty out in front of the house so he can try out his new-found skill in public. Twice. Plus another time when the contents of the potty are first displayed for the

posted 5:59:39pm Sep. 18, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.