The Virgin SuicidesOverview -
The Virgin Suicides finally comes to the incredible Criterion Collection for the first time with new audio and video transfers, along with new and vintage supplements. This film marks Sofia Coppola's feature film debut, which follows a group of now older men, recalling their time in high-school in regards to their love of the mystery of the five Lisbon sisters and why they took their lives while growing up. It's beautiful, tragic, and simple in the best of ways, which permanently etched Sofia's name into the moviemaking business. Again, Criterion has another hit release on their hands with this. Must-Own!
With this debut feature, Sofia Coppola announced her singular vision, which explores the aesthetics of femininity while illuminating the interior lives of young women. A faithful adaptation of Jeffrey Eugenides’s popular first novel, The Virgin Suicides conjures the ineffable melancholy of teenage longing and ennui in its story of the suicides of the five Lisbon sisters, stifled by the rules of their overprotective religious parents—as told through the collective memory of a group of boys who yearn to understand what happened. Evoking its 1970s suburban setting through ethereal cinematography by Ed Lachman and an atmospheric score by Air, the film secured a place for its director in the landscape of American independent cinema and has become a coming-of-age touchstone.
Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take
Some eighteen years later, Sofia Coppola's directorial debut of The Virgin Suicides still packs an emotional punch and is relevant as ever in our current social and political climate. Based on the book of the same name by Jeffrey Eugenides, Coppola stays faithful to the characters and story while adding her own unique and now iconic view on people and family along with all of the awkward stereotypes that go with growing up as a wishful teenager. I do believe this is a timeless tale and film, as a lot of us can relate to all sides of this story, in addition to each character, while still reeling from the mystery surrounding the five female siblings.
The story is told by a voice-over by a grownup narrator as he recalls his time in high-school along with his buddies, who all chime in at some point. It's said that these boys, some decades later, are still in shock and coping with what happened during their high school years, which involved the five Lisbon sisters. The Lisbon sisters had two loving parents, however, they were super religious and quite strict, which led the youngest sibling to take her own life. From then, nothing was ever the same as the boys developed a fascination with the reclusive siblings, as they all had long blonde hair, all beautiful, and fun.
That all being said, their parents withdrew them from school and kept them inside in fear of that they would take their own lives like their little sister. The boys recall how much they simply loved them and kept in contact with them over the phone with a series of songs they would play for each other. Eventually, the siblings invited the boys over in an attempt to help them escape their home-prison, but like the title of the film reads, the boys got more than they bargained for. Sofia Coppola does a perfect job of showing us both the good and bad, as well as the beautiful and ugliness of how people can act, whether it be overprotective parents, flirting, and even betrayal, which are things we all go through in high-school. It's a perfect balance of something genuine and real, which each actor brings their certain simplistic charm to each role.
Again, almost two decades later, The Virgin Suicides is as relevant as ever in regards to how we treat others. The camera work, script, and performances are all top notch here, along with the incredible music score by the French band, Air. It's no doubt that Sofia exploded onto the directorial scene with this film, as it's one of the more important pieces of cinema over the past 20 years.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
The Virgin Suicides comes with a 50GB Blu-ray Disc from Criterion There is a Criterion booklet that is fully illustrated, which includes cast and crew information, tech specs, and an essay by Megan Abbott on the film. This comes with Spine #920. The discs and booklet are housed in a hard, clear plastic case.
This Criterion version of The Virgin Suicides comes with a 1080p HD transfer and is presented in 1.67:1 aspect ratio. According to the Criterion text, this new transfer was approved by Sofia Coppola herself and is in fact a new digital transfer of the film that was created in 4K resolution from the 35mm original camera negative. Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, scratches, splices, and warps were manually removed as well. Needless to say, this new transfer is excellent when compared to previous releases.
The colors are more natural and well-balanced, enhancing some of the white levels of the fantasy elements much better. The colors of the clothing and suburban neighborhoods are all bold and striking, but never overly done. It's a more subtle color palette, rather than harsh looking primary colors. The detail is sharp and vivid too, revealing facial features, including freckles, individual hairs, makeup effects, and more. The grain for the film adds to the filmic aspect of the movie and only adds to the time period of the film in the best ways possible.
There are certain scenes that have a blue or green tint to them, but these are stylistic choices to enhance emotions and the tone of the picture and not a transfer issue. Lastly, the black levels are all deep and inky and the skin tones are natural. There are no issues with any banding, aliasing, or video noise to speak of either.
This release comes with a DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix, and according to the Criterion booklet, the original track was remastered from the 35mm Dolby SR magnetic track where clicks, thumps, hiss, hum, and crackle were all manually removed. There isn't much to this audio track, in that there are no gunshots or explosions. Instead, this is a very soft sounding mix.
Highlights are the impressive soundtrack music, which always adds to the emotional tone of the film in the best ways possible. Dialogue is crystal clear and easy to follow, and free of all problems. The bigger sound effects are all robust and full, but never over-bearing. From this quiet dialogue-driven movie, this is a great audio presentation.
Revisiting The Virgin Suicides (HD, 27 Mins.) - These are new interviews, made specifically for this release in which Sofia Coppola, cinematographer Ed Lachman, and actors Kirsten Dunst and Josh Hartnett talk about making the film and what it means to them some two decades later. Topics include working with Coppola, the original novel, the tone, and music of the film.
Jeffrey Eugenides (HD, 16 Mins.) - This new interview was also made for this release in which the author and writer of the film talk about writing the book and how he became involved with the movie adaptation. He talks about the production of the film, the characters, the actors, and more.
Strange Magic (HD, 14 Mins.) - Also a new interview for this release, Tavi Gevinson talks about the tones and themes of the film and how it impacted audiences around the world.
Making The Virgin Suicides (HD, 23 Mins.) - The original behind the scenes featurette is here with interviews, raw footage, and discussions about the film.
Lick the Star (HD, 14 Mins.) - A short film by Sofia Coppola from 1988, which is in B&W.
Playground Love (HD, 4 Mins.) - This is the music video from Air that was featured in the film.
Trailers (HD, 4 Mins.) - Two trailers for the film are included here.
Criterion Booklet - Fully illustrated booklet featuring bast and crew info, tech specs, and an essay by Megan Abbott on the film.
The Virgin Suicides still holds up some eighteen years later and brought the world the directorial stylings of Sofia Coppola. This film is a big gut-punch, but also a coming-of-age film in the most peculiar of ways. The performances and story are all top notch here, which has you hypnotized from scene one, just as the young boys in the movie are when they see the beautiful Lisbon sisters. Criterion has knocked it out of the park yet again with the new video and audio presentations, along with brand new bonus features, along with the vintage ones. This is a MUST-OWN for sure.
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