No 262 - The Virgin Suicides
Director - Sofia Coppola
Let us continue, in reverse chronological order, with my journey through Sofia Coppola. Continuing the theme of upset young women and with an incredibly dark tale.
The film begins - wonderfully setting the tone - with Cecilia, the youngest of the sisters, slashing her wrists and going to hospital.... here she is told by a complete idiot of a doctor that life will only get worse. At least the amazing (and far too brief) cameo of Danny De Vito dressed as professor Robert Winston helps to put things in perspective - 'let your daughters meet other children of their own age' he essentially says. This is the main moral of a very bleak story. You see, the Lisbon girls do not get much of a chance to socialise, and this is not a good thing...
I don't know quite what the film is trying to say. It seems to imply that if you are a strict and over zealous christian parent you will probably lead your children to kill themselves. I don't think this could be a very popular message, so I'm not 100% confident on how likely it is....
What we are faced with though is the story of five sisters who are living their lives in American 70's suburbia and who eventually all off themselves (that isn't a spoiler - seeing as it is the film's BLOODY TITLE)
However, the film spends very little time dwelling on the deaths. It is more about the lives of the girls - and focusing on their unhappiness. In fact, for the majority of the film, the only death is Cecilia' quite horrific impaling on a spike on a fence. We're then briefly faced with the aftermath but mostly deal with four girls being driven crazy by their repressive parents and the few times they're allowed to rebel.
The protagonist of this is Lux, played by Kirsten Dunst at (I think) her most overtly sexual. By the way, Lux is 14 (though... importantly... at the time, Kirsten dunst wasn't). She is the nearest this film has to a lead, being the most outgoing and least repressed of the sisters. For whilst the majority of the sisters seem to shrink back and be very very awkward round people. Lux is a complete hussy - and probably the only exception to the use of the word Virgin in the title. As the most outward of the sisters, it is she that acts as a force, drawing in ALL the local boys. Because, as this film is about teenage girls - it is about dating.
And where the majority of the girls get random blokes (including one, Chase, who appears to be 7 and gets off with the 16 year old sister) Lux, gets Trip.
Both share stupid names and both are uncomfortably overtly sexual for their age.
and.... Trip is none other than Josh Hartnett. The entire film is told in flashback, and the scenes with Trip are the only ones which flash to the modern day and 'interview' the older Trip.
In fact - this film is a bit like It's a Wonderful life, in that the main crux of the story is to build up the characters. That way, when they do get to the point of suicide, you really really feel for them. And where George Bailey didn't jump, here the sisters do (figuratively.... I won't spoil the end for you). Which makes it all the more completely and utterly tragic.