The Virgin Suicides (film)

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The Virgin Suicides
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Sofia Coppola
Produced by
Written by Sofia Coppola
Based on The Virgin Suicides
by Jeffrey Eugenides
Music by Air
Cinematography Edward Lachman
Edited by
Distributed by Paramount Classics
Release date
Running time
97 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $6.1 million
Box office $10.4 million[1]

The Virgin Suicides is a 1999 American drama written and directed by Sofia Coppola,[2] produced by Francis Ford Coppola,[2] and starring James Woods, Kathleen Turner, Kirsten Dunst, Josh Hartnett, and A. J. Cook.[2]

Based on the 1993 best selling debut novel of the same name by American author Jeffrey Eugenides, the film tells of the brief lives of five teenage sisters in a middle class suburb near the outskirts of Detroit during the 1970s. After the youngest sister makes an initial attempt at suicide, her sisters are put under close scrutiny by their parents, eventually being confined to the home, which leads to their increasingly depressive and isolated behavior.


In the suburbs of Grosse Pointe, Michigan during the mid-1970s, a group of neighborhood boys — now grown men — reflect upon their memories of the five Lisbon sisters, ages 13 to 17. Unattainable due to their Catholic and overprotective parents, math teacher Ronald and his homemaker wife, the girls — Therese, Mary, Bonnie, Lux, and Cecilia — are the enigma that fill the boys' conversations and dreams.

During the summer, the youngest sister, Cecilia, slits her wrist in a bath, after her parents allow her sisters to throw a chaperoned basement party intended to make her feel better, she excuses herself and jumps out of her second story bedroom window, dying when she is impaled on an iron fence below. In the wake of her act, the Lisbon parents watch over their four remaining daughters even more closely, this further isolates the family from the community and heightens the air of mystery surrounding the girls; to the neighborhood boys in particular.

At the beginning of the new school year in the fall, Lux forms a secret and short-lived romance with Trip Fontaine, the school heartthrob. Trip comes over one night to the Lisbon residence in hopes of getting closer to Lux and watches television with the family. Trip persuades Mr. Lisbon to allow him to take Lux to the upcoming Homecoming Dance by promising to provide dates for the other sisters, after winning king and queen, Trip persuades Lux to ditch the group and have sex on the football field. Afterwards, Lux falls asleep, and Trip abandons her, at dawn, Lux wakes up alone and has to take a taxi home.

Having broken curfew, Lux and her sisters are punished by a paranoid Mrs. Lisbon by being taken out of school. Unable to leave the house, the sisters contact the boys across the street by using light signals and sharing songs over the phone.

During this time, Lux rebels against her repression and becomes promiscuous, having anonymous sexual encounters on the roof of her house late at night; the neighborhood boys spy from across the street. After weeks of confinement, the sisters leave a note for the boys. When the boys arrive that night, they find Lux alone in the living room, smoking a cigarette, she invites them inside to wait for her sisters, while she goes to start the car.

Curious, the boys wander into the basement after hearing a noise and discover Bonnie's body hanging from the ceiling rafters. Horrified, they rush back upstairs only to stumble across the body of Mary in the kitchen, the boys realize that the girls had all killed themselves in an apparent suicide pact: Bonnie hanged herself; Mary died by putting her head in the gas oven; Therese overdosed on sleeping pills; and Lux died of carbon monoxide poisoning after she left the car engine running in the garage.

Devastated by the suicides, Mr. and Mrs. Lisbon leave the neighborhood. Mr. Lisbon has a friend clean out the house and sell off the family belongings in a yard sale. Whatever didn't sell was put in the trash, including the family photos, which the neighborhood boys collect as mementos, the house is sold to a young couple from the Boston area. The adults in the community go about their lives as if nothing happened, the men acknowledge that they had loved the girls, and that they will never know why the sisters took their lives.






In addition to original score composed for the film by Air, the film features songs by 1970s-era performers and five tracks from the 1990s by Sloan. Sofia Coppola wanted to convey the theme of adolescence in the suburbs in the soundtrack.[3] She found that Air shared many of her suburban memories and experiences even though they grew up in a different country.[3] A separate soundtrack album was released featuring music from Todd Rundgren, Steely Dan, Boston, Heart, Sloan, The Hollies, Al Green, Gilbert O'Sullivan, 10cc, Styx, and two tracks by Air (one previously recorded; one composed for the film).

Mentioned in the credits (chronologically):


The film had its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival on May 19, 1999,[4] it was released in the United States on April 21, 2000.[5]

Critical reception[edit]

The Virgin Suicides received positive reviews from film critics. It holds a 76% approval rating on review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, based on 95 reviews, with a weighted average of 6.9/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Sofia's successful directorial debut lies in the movie's compelling story and the actors' genuine emotions."[6] On Metacritic, the film holds a rating of 76 out of 100, based on 31 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[7] Jeffrey Eugenides visited the set of the film for three days.[3] He supports the film, but he did offer a few critiques in an interview with "Dazed",[3] the girls are more of an entity than actual people. He believes this idea could have been accomplished by casting different actresses to play the same character with each actress changing depending on whom they are speaking to.[3]


  1. ^ The Virgin Suicides (2000). Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2011-03-11.
  2. ^ a b c Scott, A. O. (April 21, 2000). "Evanescent Trees and Sisters In an Enchanted 1970's Suburb". The New York Times. Retrieved May 6, 2017. 
  3. ^ a b c d e "THE VIRGIN SUICIDES - Movie Production". Retrieved 24 June 2017. 
  4. ^ Richman, Darren (June 14, 2017). "Movies You Might Have Missed: Sofia Coppola's The Virgin Suicides". Retrieved June 23, 2017. 
  5. ^ Scott, A.O. (April 21, 2000). "FILM REVIEW; Evanescent Trees and Sisters In an Enchanted 1970's Suburb". The New York Times. Retrieved June 23, 2017. 
  6. ^ "The Virgin Suicides (1999)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved June 23, 2017. 
  7. ^ "The Virgin Suicides". Retrieved March 3, 2011. 

External links[edit]