“You're not even old enough to know how bad life gets.”
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25 years on, Sofia Coppola’s brilliant debut feature The Virgin Suicides remains just as radiant and mysterious as its heroines. The year is 1975 in a sleepy upscale Detroit suburb— home to the five beautiful Lisbon sisters, kept remote from the world by their devoutly religious mother and father. The tension between their desire to live as normal teenagers and their parents’ attempts to shelter them only increases after one of the sisters harms herself, and they become objects of fascination for the local boys. Adapted from the award-winning novel by Jeffrey Eugenides, this is a delicate story of suburban sorrows, capturing the fleeting sense of adolescence viewed through the lens of adult regrets and wonder at what might have been.
Lush, dreamy and tragic, Coppola sets the tone for her body of work with this portrait of a particular type of girlhood preserved under glass. She puts those nepo baby/legacy artist skills to work, drawing riveting performances from the cast with the assuredness of a veteran director. The inspired decision to compliment the soundtrack of 70s ballads the girls listen to in their gilded cage with an original score by French electronic duo Air lends the film a timeless quality, drifting through a haze of drowsy sax solos and awkward school dances towards quiet devastation. Like a faded photograph, The Virgin Suicides is a bittersweet memory that lingers.