23 December 2011

13 Dec - "Obviously, doctor, you've never been a 13 year-old girl"

The Virgin Suicides (1999)
dir. Sofia Coppola (Lost in Translation, 2003)

James Woods (Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (voice), 2001)
Josh Hartnett (The Faculty, 1998)
Kathleen Turner (Peggy Sue Got Married, 1986)
Scott Glenn (The Silence of the Lambs, 1991)
Danny Devito (Romancing the Stone, 1984)
Hanna Hall (Forrest Gump, 1994)
A.J. Cook (Final Destination 2, 2003)
Robert Schwartzman (The Princess Diaries, 2001)
Kirsten Dunst (Elizabethtown, 2005)
Hayden Christensen (Star Wars: Episode II- Attack of the Clones, 2002)
Giovanni Ribisi (voice) (That Thing You Do!, 1996)

This movie is one of those surprising examples of how Kirsten Dunst can act pretty damn well when she's cast in the right role. In fact, this movie was surprising in a lot of ways, and it was better than I anticipated. It was sort of like a mystery movie, as you know when the movie starts that these girls aren't going to make it, and you keep watching as you're guided through the film by a third-party narrator, studying their words and their faces to try and figure out what was so wrong with life that these five pretty sisters decided it wasn't even worth trying anymore.

I think there are two ways you can look at it. One the one hand, you might think that the girls are a bit narcissistic, and that the drama of strict parents and boys who don't call back (am I right?) was the only impetus for them to make some grand gesture indicating that they were simply fed up with all the bullshit. After all, they were too young to know actually misery. They had nice parents and a nice home and everyone liked them. Right?

But I think that theory doesn't really add up under a closer scrutiny. At least, not in a poetic, cinematic world. I think maybe the girls were suffering from a severe case of ennui, and having briefly tasted love, adventure, etc. were frustrated to discover that this was all life had to offer, and decided to opt out for lack of anticipation. Peter Pan style: "death will be an awfully big adventure."

But the movie was intentionally unclear. Our narrators adore and admire the sisters from afar, intimately collecting the details of their lives, but never actually try to befriend the girls discover what they really are. And so there's also an tone of loneliness to the movie. I suppose that's the nature of loss. Never knowing what lies at the core of someone else's heart, then suddenly that person isn't there anymore, and you're never certain why she left or how life could have been different.

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