The Lisbon sisters
The Virgin Suicides takes place in a bare Detroit suburb in the 70's. Among pastel houses and chipping paint, all five Lisbon sisters, 13-17 years old, kill themselves.
The film is known for the extra camera time focusing on the details of the ways the characters live, keeping specifically with the middle-of-nowhere feeling. But the moments spent on details of material memories of the girls align with this feeling most perfectly, combining the mixed pain and comfort of remembering someone who is now gone with the mixed pain and comfort of living in a place so secluded. Sophia Coppola pays attention to seemingly minor details -- a photo on a mantle, an eyelash curler -- when the larger story is so tragic, even the tiniest of details seem extraordinarily significant. Depressing details of boring houses in boring towns become weirdly beautiful when they end up the only remnants of people who are now dead, leaving the neighborhood boys to smell the Lisbons' stolen lipstick with wistful desire.
Though the Lisbon sisters actually are alive for the majority of the movie, we hardly know them any better than the boys across the street, searching for any clues or contact. Though half of the idea of the Lisbons is definitely a teenage boy fantasy about blond unicorn fairies, the moments we get to witness of them all spending time together -- lying strategically like Tetris pieces on the same bed, fixing their hair for the spring dance, smoking together in the school bathroom -- indicate a kind of unspoken bond they've created amongst themselves out of colors and songs and stares. Along with being the total babes the neighborhood boys fawn over, they're complicated and human, mysterious and intriguing, already thinking about things you're not supposed to consider until you've exhausted the world of your bedroom and school and want more answers. Unfortunately, not all answers are as dreamy as the world the Lisbons had previously pieced together. As one scene focuses in on Lux Lisbon in a class photo, one of the boys recalls the tips the school administration had told them to look for in their possibly troubled peers: "Were the Lisbon girls' pupils dilated? Had they lost interest in special activities, in sports and hobbies? Had they withdrawn from their peers?"
I need to see this movie again. In addition to "Twin Peaks."