There are some movies that you add to your
movie collection just so you can pull them out on a dark, rainy day—movies that you know
will put the smile right back on your face.
The Virgin Suicides is
not one of those movies.
Right from the beginning, you’ll see that
this movie isn’t a lighthearted coming-of-age story—as it opens with the attempted
suicide of thirteen-year-old Cecilia, the youngest of five beautiful, blonde Lisbon
Told through the eyes of the grown men who were once just four
neighborhood boys, drawn to the Lisbon girls in teenage obsession, the film looks back on
the girls’ lives—leading up to their ultimate deaths. Viewers see the girls and their
overprotective parents (played by Kathleen Turner and James Woods) from a distance, the
way the neighborhood boys did: through a telescope in one kid’s bedroom, in their
mothers’ hushed conversations, through the souvenirs the boys collected, in the hallways
at school, from TV newscasts, and in the lights in the Lisbon house’s windows... For
that reason, the character development isn’t strong—you never really get the whole
story, and you never really get to know the Lisbon family personally. But, at the same
time, you find yourself caught up in the obsession.
Most of the story
revolves around fourteen-year-old Lux (Kirsten Dunst), the most outgoing and the least
innocent of the sisters. Lux’s relationship with the smooth-talking, football-playing
school hunk, Trip Fontaine (Josh Hartnett), opens the doors for the sisters for just a
short time—when their parents allow them to go to the homecoming dance. But even as
you’re watching those few moments of teenage irresponsibility and excitement, you know it
can’t last. And when Lux breaks curfew after the dance, the Lisbson girls’ downward
spiral only accelerates.
If you’re looking for a fun, brainless movie to
help you unwind after a long day of work, look elsewhere. But if you’re looking for a
powerful, beautifully done film, then The Virgin Suicides is just what you’re
looking for. It’s not a fast-paced, heart-pounding action film. It’s not a fluffy
romantic comedy. It’s subdued but not dull. It’s dramatic yet not overly emotional.
It’s distanced yet not cold. It’s deep and symbolic without being confusing. It’s
thought-provoking and mysterious without being obscure. It’s unique—and it’s well worth
seeing (just not on a dark, rainy day).