The Virgin Suicides

  • Review Date: May 10, 2003
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2000

Common Sense Media says

Intense, imperfect movie about teen suicide.
  • Review Date: May 10, 2003
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2000

Age(i)

2
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5
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7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The serious subject matter regarding suicide makes this film for mature teens only.

Violence

Theme of suicide is very upsetting, a few explicit images.

Sex

A theme of the movie is sexual longing and repression; teen has indiscriminate sex.

Language

Brief language.

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Teen drinking and smoking; teen smokes pot constantly and develops substance abuse problem.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie's theme may be very upsetting to teens, some of whom may think it suggests that suicide is a romantic and powerful response to overly strict parents. In addition to the overall theme of sexual longing and repression, there are some sexual references and situations. One character smokes pot constantly (he is shown as an adult in a treatment center for substance abuse). Teenagers smoke and drink.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Set in the mid-1970's THE VIRGIN SUICIDES is the story of five exquisitely beautiful sisters who dazzle and beguile the boys around them. Amid the idyllic suburban stillness, there are intimations that all is not right. Huge elm trees are diagnosed with Dutch Elm Disease and ordered to be cut down. And the youngest of the Lisbon girls, only 13, tries to kill herself. The doctor shakes his head, "You're not even old enough to know how bad life gets." She looks up at him, sadly, wrists wrapped in white gauze, "Obviously, doctor, you've never been a 13 year old girl." A quarter of a century has passed, but the boys who longed for the Lisbon sisters can't forget them. They hold on to relics and totems: a diary, scribbled notes decorated with hearts and stickers. And they tell each other over and over the events of that time, hoping that this time they will make sense. There is no explanation for the unthinkably terrible act, and the movie does not try to provide one. Like the boys, we pore over their lives, looking for a point at which they might have made a different choice.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

First-time director Sophia Coppola, who also wrote the screenplay, based on the book by Jeffrey Eugenides, has a wonderful eye for detail and composition. The production design is perfect in every detail. There are painfully accurate moments as teenagers try to make conversation ("How'd your SATs go?" "You're a stone fox!") and connection (when the boys finally call the girls on the phone, all they can bring themselves to do is play records to them). Kirsten Dunst is marvelous as the most adventuresome of the girls, and Josh Hartnett is fine as the high school hunk with a broken heart for every puka shell around his neck. And the narration, beautifully read by Giovanni Ribisi, is lyrical and moving.

But ultimately, the movie falters. It tries for metaphor -- those dying elm trees, an asphyxiation-themed debutante party at which people wear gas masks decorated with glitter, the girls as princesses in a tower waiting for princes who can't save them. And it tries for distance from its time or milieu. But like the collection of ephemera the boys hold onto for years, the movie has "not life, but the most trivial list of mundane facts."

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about what has and has not changed since the 1970's.

  • Why the girls were such an endless source of fascination for the boys and about why the response of the community seemed so heartless to the boys?

  •  

  • What could have led the girls to take their own lives and who, if anyone could have prevented it?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:May 12, 2000
DVD release date:December 19, 2000
Cast:James Woods, Josh Hartnett, Kirsten Dunst
Director:Sofia Coppola
Studio:Paramount Pictures
Genre:Drama
Run time:97 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:strong thematic elements involving teens

This review of The Virgin Suicides was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 14 years old Written byDreamTheImpossible April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age
QUALITY
 

A Common Adolesence Movie

Me,being an adolesence myself,consider this a typical teenage movie.I saw it as a very dark movie,but shows the downturn of a sqeaky clean family life,turning into confusion and tragedy.Though many may not be able to relate to this movie,this film could make many curious and wondering about the death of the Lisbon sisters.If you watch this movie,it will most likely leave you questioning.I,recommend this to anyone,in their teens,who would be interested in a mystery like this.

Adult Written byjorgeal95 January 14, 2011
AGE
16
QUALITY
 

Disturbing, confusing

This is an alright movie. Worth watching in a sense, though it is very hard to keep up with. It is confusing & contains a lot of references & depictions of suicide. Somewhat disturbing. This is definitely not for younger kids, more because of its confusing plot line.

What other families should know
Too much violence
Teen, 13 years old Written bygadi April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age
QUALITY
 

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