The Virgin Suicides is about the increasingly depressive behaviour a group of teenage girls start to exhibit after they are forced to stay at home in isolation. But that doesn’t take away from the film’s importance. The Sofia Coppola directorial kicked off conversations about parenting and mental health under the guise of a high school drama. And the film did it well.
The movie is based on Jeffrey Eugenides’ novel of the same name where a group of boys recount their fascination and interaction with teenage siblings who all go to the same school. The girls’ parents, and especially their mother (a restrained Kathleen Turner), do not like their daughters mingling with other boys and girls outside of school. (SPOILER) The said girls end up taking their lives because they can no longer put up with the austere measures of their guardians. While many critics and viewers have often found the pacing a tad slow for a teen drama, they have not failed to praise the way the filmmaker has thrown light on mental health. The storyline, though engaging, would not have struck a chord as much as it did had it not been for the performances. The entire cast brought their best to the table, with James Wood, Kathleen Turner and Kirsten Dunst stealing the spotlight.
Dunst’s Lux Lisbon pines for attention because she never seemingly gets it at home. While the other daughters are better at being the so-called good girl, Lux behaves like any other rebellious (American) teenager would — she flouts the rules, makes out with jocks and smokes a whole bunch. But in the end, we know that she is an intelligent girl who just wants to be loved. Dunst, who at the time was 17, displayed that rare streak of maturity in her performance which comes only after years of being in the business. As Lux, she was at once charming and mysterious, never telling her audience what her character is all about — but only guiding them via her ‘acting’.
Hollywood Rewind: The Breakfast Club | Enchanted | Walk the Line | Blood Diamond | Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban | Mortal Kombat | Bridges of Madison County | Edward Scissorhands | Breakfast at Tiffany’s | She’s Gotta Have It | Ever After | The Devil Wears Prada | The Matrix | Creed | Mulan | Ratatouille | Shutter Island | Her | Dead Poets Society | Sleepless in Seattle | Waitress | Pride and Prejudice | The Dark Knight | Before Sunset | School of Rock | About a Boy | A Few Good Men | 50/50 | Begin Again | Brooklyn | Drive | Chocolat | Batman Begins | 10 Things I Hate About You | The Departed | Freedom Writers | Pretty Woman | Dan in Real Life | Jurassic Park | Tangled | Meet Joe Black | Monster’s Ball | Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind | You’ve Got Mail | Half Nelson | Fight Club | Doubt | American Psycho | Julie and Julia | Forrest Gump | The Silence of the Lambs | Finding Neverland | Roman Holiday| American History X | Tropic Thunder | Before Sunrise | Scent of a Woman | Finding Forrester | Sixteen Candles
A special shout out to James Woods and Kathleen Turner, who fit their parts of the kind, well-meaning but lost adults to the T.
Ultimately, The Virgin Suicides is a disturbing, provocative story of daughters who died too young and with too little love.