Friday, August 12, 2016

Directorial Debut: Sofia Coppola's THE VIRGIN SUICIDES

Welcome to a new installment of DIRECTORIAL DEBUT, where we look at some of the best, most interesting, and iconic directors and the films that jump started their careers. This week we take a look at Sofia Coppola's THE VIRGIN SUICIDES.

The Virgin Suicides came out back in 1999, which, coincidentally, was also the year I graduated high school. This is a film I've seen several times since its release, but it wasn't until I studied it for a Screenplay Writing class in college that it really began to resonate with me. This film is filled with so much beauty and angst that it actually made me cry. I was fully able to understand the angst felt by both the teenage boys and the Lisbon sisters, and this understanding was strengthened by reading the screenplay. There is a huge difference between reading something on paper and watching it onscreen. 

I really connected with the two characters, Lux Lisbon and Tripp Fontaine. They had a sweet love that was coupled with tragic results. Kirsten Dunst gave a sweet and lovable performance as Lux, adding the perfect innocence to the character. However, she lost that innocence to Trip, a heartthrob played by Josh Hartnett. And it was this romance with him that ultimately led to her tragic end.

The Lisbon sisters were cloistered by their parents, who were strict Catholics, and kept their five daughters sheltered from the outside world. The neighborhood boys found the sisters unattainable because of this, and with unattainability often comes desire. I'm able to relate to the Lisbon sisters in this capacity because I was raised in a strict home during my teenage years.

The last name Coppola is well-known in Hollywood, as I'm sure you've heard of the iconic film The Godfather and its famous director, Frances Ford Coppola, who happens to be Sofia's father. So, she had some very big shoes to fill. I think having a famous director for a father in Hollywood would make me nervous about my first film as a director, but she knocked it out of the park.

In 2003, Coppola wrote, directed, and produced the film Lost In Translation, for which she won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. She was also the first American woman to be nominated for an Oscar for Best Director. Coppola comes from a very talented family, as we said earlier, and she learned from the best. Being around sets and actors all her life definitely gave her an advantage.

Luckily, the film was received well by critics. The New York Post heaped praise on the film, saying "It's hard to remember a film that mixes disparate, delicate ingredients with the subtlety and virtuosity of Sofia Coppola's brilliant The Virgin Suicides". This is definitely a film that I love and would highly recommend to everyone.

Lisa's Score: 8/10

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