Sunday, February 21

Review: The Virgin Suicides

The film begins with a voice-over. "Cecilia went first". We only know the movie's title at this point. Fill in the blanks. We see a girl being taken to the hospital, where a doctor asks: "What are you doing here, honey? You're not even old enough to know how bad life gets". The tween girl in the bed, wrists covered in bandages, answers in a very down-to-earth way: "Obviously, Doctor, you've never been a 13-year-old girl."

This film will not explain to you how it is to be a 13-year old girl. It is never explained why all 5 Lisbon sisters take their lives. It doesn't come completely out of the blue, but what pushed them over edge is never clarified. It is never explained why the youngest one jumps from a window, only for her sisters to follow a year later. It's never clarified why they hang, poison and gas themselves. But trust me, you will know.

I once asked my mother, who is a psychologist, if she never was appalled by all the horrible things here clients did. How can you feel remorse for someone who hits his children? She then told me that those people tended to have problems with their marriage, have to work way too much to make ends meet, might be or have been alcoholics and have children who are nagging all day long while they are trying to make them survive. What they do is still unacceptable, but at least you understand.

And that is what this movie does: it presents characters who can be understood. The house of the Lisbons is bleak and loveless because of their conservative and rigid parents, yet you see a father who loves his daughters and has a thing for airplanes. You see a guy who is scoring with all the nice chicks and leaves the girl off his dreams after their one night together, but you also see how nervous he is when he it trying to get close to her . Maybe you don't approve, but you will understand.

It should be clear by now that this is not a light-hearted film. Sofia Coppola is not a director who makes friendly movies. But this is a drama in the best sense of the world: a clash between genuine people who are just people. And you will understand both sides. It reminded me of Greek tragedies: everyone has a point, but it all ends in tragedy for all involved.

This is one of the most gripping films I have seen in a while. Not a full-on classic, but pretty damn close.


P.S. What is it with female directors writing movies that completely understand boys? First Bigalow with The Hurt Locker, now this... They are on us, guys.

For the music today: a song from the soundtrack of the film with a video made from excerpts of the film.

1 comment:

  1. Hmm, I understand what you're saying here.. But I think I still don't really understand.. For me this was a typicall movie that explained the bad things about being the 'perfect American family'. Maybe you should elaborate this a little bit more in person one time ;)
    Really like the soundtrack though! Nice video too.
    And btw, did you write this in a hurry? It has some errors in it.. You might check it again.. (Some comment of a dyslexic person.. Sorry!)