The Virgin Suicides (1999)


The Virgin Suicides (1999)
A Review by Ben Hunter

3½ Out of 5 Stars 


This piece reminded me of my over protective, extremely religious and demanding you be the same, parents when I was the age of the daughters this film centers around. Who, unlike the parents in the movie, saw what their strict methods were doing to their oldest child and lightened up! In the end, I did feel sorry for James Wood's character. It felt like he was just swept along in all of this chaos and estrogen, and was trying to make the best of things, keep his sanity, and stay happy. I just felt really bad for him, like his life was taken away from him and he had no choice.

The movie was a great concept, but I've come to realize now that behind the scenes featurettes and any kind of PR for a movie is slanted and an overtly positive, biased opinion. Everyone has nothing but good things to say about the movie and how good it is. Or about how visionary and wonderful the director is, which in this case, the goodness is poured on just a little heavier than usual. I mean, come on it's "Sofia Coppola" (putting her name in BIG marquee letters), everything she does is going to be good right? Well at least that's how she's portrayed.

This is the second movie of hers that I've viewed solely because "everyone" said it was SO GOOD! Now viewing it for myself and seeing what all the hype was about, I've been let down again. Or just told myself, "well I don't see what everyone else sees in it. It's pretty good, I'm not running in circles of excitement over how good it was either." I liked this one better than Lost In Translation, which I think was highly overrated. But a good reason that Suicides was made.

It was a great story that lead to a shocking ending which really increased my interest in the film ... until I watched "the making of" featurettes. I mean everyone is just so in awe of Sofia, as if everything she touches turns to gold. And if she were to grace you with her presence, everything she affects would improve and be that much better. "Oh my gosh, Sofia touched my coffee table, sat on my couch, and ate some of my fruit that was on the table. This fruit now has special seeds in it; make sure she doesn't throw it away! I still can't believe she's in my house!!" That's how it felt and I just didn't buy any of it.

Studying marketing all throughout college, it makes sense as to why everything is so overtly biased in a positive way. But people can sense when you're not being real and you're just saying what you're paid to say otherwise that's your rear end ... and your job. I totally saw right through everything, probably because I didn't believe in the film as much as everyone on the set did; or as much as everyone who liked the film did. Which is why I don't have a longing desire to work on the set, it's just a small interest of mine. Everyone is just so sure that this is going to be "That Movie".

They showed the scene where Josh Hartnett leaves the family's house after watching television with everyone and gets into his car afterwards. Well, someone read that same scene from the book as to which the movie is based on, and I had no idea that all this additional information is what I was supposed to be thinking and taking away from the scene. I mean, so much was going through Josh's head, with the family's thoughts, the neighborhood ... I thought I missed something about the whole movie!

Sofia probably knew that I probably wasn't going to get all of what the author of the book wanted me to feel what he wanted me to. But I took this as a backfire and not a way to help sell the film like the rest of the featurette was doing, "so positively!" But this is a completely different debate that I could get on about how people put down movies and compare them to books like comparing apples to oranges or two completely different things and say that movies don't even come close to being as good as a good book because they can't relay as much information as books, "A good book would KILL a good movie!" ... when I hear statements similar I get so frustrated in society's ignorance, don't get me started!

I admired how Josh Hartnett was a gentleman to the family about taking out Kirsten Dunst and her sisters in the film. How it showed a sense of family, structure, and discipline. I thought I could take this scene out of the movie to play it by itself and show it to my son (way way WAY down the line when I actually have kids of my own) and introduce to him how to treat women. So there's definitely something to this story other than its miraculous ending that everyone praises along with the film's director. I did enjoy watching this movie. I just think that the politics in cinema can go a little too far, or has gone a little too far.

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