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Movie Reviews

The Virgin Suicides  

Mr. Lisbon (James Woods)
Mrs. Lisbon (Kathleen Turner)
Lux (Kirsten Dunst)
Trip (Josh Harnett)
Cullen (Hayden Christensen)

Written and Directed by Sofia Coppola
Rated R for strong thematic elements involving teens
Running Time: 97 minutes Distributed by Paramount Classics

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The Virgin Suicides is a strange and twisted film. On the surface the Lisbons appear to be a healthy, successful 1970s family living in a middle-class Michigan suburb. Mr. Lisbon (Woods) is a math teacher; his wife (Turner) is a rigid religious mother of five attractive teenage daughters who catch the eyes of the neighborhood boys. However, after 13-year old Cecilia commits suicide, the family spirals downward into a creepy state of isolation and the remaining girls are cut off from social interaction (particularly the opposite sex) by their protective mother. But the strategy backfires, their seclusion makes the girls even more intriguing to the obsessed boys, who will go to unknown lengths to please the girls.

The Virgin Suicides is one of those weird independent films that’s story makes it work. The film’s 70s time period and theme reminded me a lot of The Ice Storm.

Legendary filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola’s daughter Sofia makes her writing and directorial debut with this film. The script is very sharp and conclusive. I really like the way Coppola used a voice over to tell the whole story. She made a nice directorial move by having the soft voice of Giovanni Ribisi narrating the film. Coppola used many different angles and styles of direction that are not complicated, but original. I liked her writing and direction in this film, and I hope to see her follow in the footsteps of her father.

The acting is outstanding in The Virgin Suicides. Kirsten Dunst delivers her most in depth performance as the curious and innocent teenager Lux. Dunst has done good work over the past few years, but she has not taken many risks in her acting (most of her roles have been very similar). However, she takes a huge risk with the great character of Lux and delivers a fabulous performance. James Woods is very patient with his role as the overshadowed Mr. Lisbon. Mr. Lisbon is a character that many actors might not be able to pull off, but Woods conquerors the role. Josh Harnett rebounds from his terrible performance in Here on Earth to give the best performance of his young career as Trip. Kathleen Turner returns to the screen with a good performance as the overprotective mother, Mrs. Lisbon. Her performance reminded me of Faye Dunaway in Mommie Dearest, without the violent outbursts. The rest of the cast is mostly young teenage actors that all showed promise for their future.

The Virgin Suicides is a film that I liked, but most audiences might be disturbed by its theme and certain aspects involved. In which, suicide and lust are disturbing parts of everyday life. However, I believe the importance of this film is to show the rebellion of youngsters when their lives are sheltered.

Report Card Grade: B+

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