The memory of the Lisbon sisters will haunt you, as if they died in your own neighborhood.
Our feature for this week’s Friday Movie Flashback is Sofia Coppola’s full-feature directorial debut, The Virgin Suicides.
The Virgin Suicides is a 1999 American film based on a novel of the same title by Jeffrey Eugenides. It is about the five Lisbon sisters and the sequence of events surrounding their pact to put an end their own lives.
The story takes place in an upper middle-class neighborhood in Gross Pointe, Michigan where the five Lisbon girls live. It’s a beautiful and quiet suburban neighborhood where lush sprawling green lawns are common and families peacefully coexist. It’s suburbia in 1974 and everything seems perfect. Why would five stunningly beautiful teenage girls want to depart from a seemingly perfect world?
Born to overprotective and authoritarian parents, the Lisbon sisters live sheltered lives under the watchful eye of their parents and scrutiny of their neighbors. Dad is a Math teacher and Mom is a religious church goer who doesn’t want the evils of the world to catch up with her daughters. Aged 13 to 17, Cecilia, Lux, Bonnie, Mary and Therese are intriguing, ethereal-looking, yet unreachable, and the four neighborhood boys, from whose point of view the story is told, can only gawk in wonder in fascination.
The film stuns at the very beginning, when thirteen-year-old Cecilia attempts to kill herself by slashing her wrists. Not about to give up, she succeeds on her second suicide attempt by jumping out her bedroom window and getting skewered on an iron fence.
I am intentionally leaving out further details since I absolutely recommend that you watch The Virgin Suicides if you haven’t seen it yet. It boasts of endearing portrayals, a star-studded cast, a fierce soundtrack, a seamless musical score courtesy of French duo Air, and a thought-provoking yet entertaining plot that should keep you probing until the end. On top of all these, The Virgin Suicides is solid proof that special effects and adrenaline-powered action sequences are not necessary to make an exceptional film.
Here’s the official trailer:
The premise for the film is dramatic but there are scenes that are light-hearted, and even funny, which would make you think that life could have been normal for the Lisbon sisters. And then, towards the end, it becomes all dark and melancholy again, and you are left with a heavy heart and a feeling of emptiness, haunted by the memory of the five girls as if they died in your own neighborhood.
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