It barely made a dent when it came to theaters, but The Virgin Suicides is one of the more provocative and original pieces I have seen this year. The movie is about five beautiful girls in a strict Catholic household who just want to interact with life, and since they aren't allowed to they realize that there is only one way to escape.
The Virgin Suicide is basically built upon an ensemble cast, many of them being younger teenagers. There are some well known actors in the larger roles, including James Woods as the father, Kathleen Turner as the mother, Kirsten Dunst as Lux, one of the five daughters, and Josh Hartnett as the school hunk that sets his eye on her. The acting in this film is very impressive, although I especially liked the performances from the lesser known people. However, James Woods delivers one of his best performances ever.
Sofia Coppola is the director and she has a very interesting approach to this film. The movie is not quite in chronological order, although it is at the same time. Sometimes, the movie has flashbacks or jump forwards that seem completely out of place but fit in the entirety of it all. Sometimes there are semi-dream sequences. The only thing that disturbed me is how the movie jumps from narrator to narrator. The younger guy talking throughout the movie is fine but at one point the film jumps to Josh Hartnett's character as a grown up as he talks about his feelings for Lux. This scene was pulled from nowhere and confused me for a minute. However, all in all, I really liked the strange techniques Coppola used.
I liked the script and the story, but at the same time I am not sure what the intent of the film was. On one hand, The Virgin Suicides deals with the trapped teenage girls, but on the other there is the large following of teenage boys that seem to have nothing better to do than to gawk at the girls and try to overcome their love for them. Both sides work and are well done but it seems a little strange that there are two drastically different themes for one film.
I do wish a little more time had been spent on James Woods' character, since he seemed like a real protagonist but really was never able to show it since he was working under the shadow of his wife. Plus, Kathleen Turner really never got a chance to realize what she had done.
The Virgin Suicides is an effective and interesting film. There's a lot going on under the surface and Sofia Coppola can congratulate herself on this original piece of work.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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