Detached to the point of distraction this is a competently assured account of a period, mood and tone but not much approaching satisfactory drama. Not that one needs things laid on with a trowel but it’s clear early on that this will remain airily evasive to the last instead relying on a too-varied panoply of masking techniques rather than a firm grip on storytelling.
“Virgin Suicides” has haunted me since I first saw it in 2000 – back then it felt somehow very distressing – but now that I watched it again, it felt lighter and funnier despite the tragedy. There’s a lot of gentle humour about life as a teenager, a sort of fantasy world that most of us go through, and not all survive. A good movie that suits well for the first movie date as well, trust me.
After all these years, I decided on a 2nd viewing of The Virgin Suicides to challenge my former indifference when I first saw it at 18. Everyone seemed to love it, except for me! If anything changed it was only for the worst; It magnified the futile vacuity of its content - a pretty pastel colored portrait of teen anxiety and sacrificed youth gazed at through the "cool" lens and numb eyes of Coppola's vision.
This is actually a comedy, an attempt to mine some levity from the conservative Christian values inherent in the American Dream (how else do you explain James Woods' performance?). Unfortunately, it's just not very funny, not dark enough to be a proper black comedy. The end result is something that feels awfully derivative of Ang Lee's The Ice Storm.
This one has a great score and displays flashes of talent from both Coppola and Dunst. Yet the story felt a little loosely weaved together and for that I blame the way the story itself is framed. In the end I knew nothing about the characters which lowered what was at stake significantly.