The Virgin Suicides

  • Review Date: May 10, 2003
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2000
  • Running Time: 97 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Intense, imperfect movie about teen suicide.
  • Review Date: May 10, 2003
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2000
  • Running Time: 97 minutes





What parents need to know

Positive messages

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


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


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


Brief language.

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?


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
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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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK 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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Teen, 13 years old Written bydude1 November 14, 2008

I almost cried during this movie, it is so good

this is one of my favorite movies. there isnt really anything bad in it except for the language and some people smoke weed. this is a very dark, depressing movie and it will make you want to kill these girls parents but i think it is a must watch for everyone.
Teen, 13 years old Written byiamfairymonkey May 5, 2011

Good movie for kids 13+ who aren't sensitive babies, but sprouting, maturing, young adults who want to learn some lessons.

I am 13, and yes, I watched it. I really disagree about the rating of 'The Virgin Suicides'. Though the whole suicide thing may be hard for some of us to comprehend, this movie isn't very R! I don't remember seeing any nudity except for Lux's legs and all the sexual stuff was just french-kisses and close hugs. Now usually, I wouldn't be able to watch an R, but 'The Virgin Suicides' was an exception. You know, this movie has really showed me the mystery behind a suicide, the reasons for doing it, and the ones who you wouldn't think are looking after you and you four other sisters but they are. All in all, I would highly advise this movie to teens 13+, but only the ones who aren't very.... sensitive... to the touchy real-life-teens situations. Though it is set in the 70's, the problems that the teens face in this movie STILL apply to kids today.
Teen, 13 years old Written by4evaYoung March 13, 2012

The Best Movie.

It was soooo amazing. I cried at the end and in the middle , it was just so sad and so amazing...IM trying to find simillar movies like it because it was The best! I recommend it!
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex


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