a little bit of everything and a whole lot of film

16 Feb 2015

The Virgin Suicides: a film by Sofia Coppola (and my attempt at redemption Vol I)



I can't believe I've just seen this now. Now. 16 years after it was first released. 

I guess I can't really blame myself. I knew of the movie when it came out, the year was 1999 and I was in the middle of my good girl gone bad phase - I, and two of my best friends at the time - had a thing for sweet, pretty, girly little things juxtaposed with grit, at times even blood. And so I guess it was a good thing I didn't watch it then, it would have probably hit too close to home. 

It's one of those movies where you feel robbed somewhat when the end credits roll. Robbed of explanations. Robbed because you feel as though the girls themselves were robbed of life even when they were the ones who took their own. Why did they kill themselves? Why didn't they just run away? They asked for help and the boys came but why was it too late? Why? Why? WHY? The girls, Lux, Cecilia (the first to croak), Bonnie, Mary and Therese all seemed normal (well, with the exception of Lux, who turned out to be somewhat of a nymphomaniac towards the end and might I add, the one who I most see myself in). Truth be told, it was the parents (Mr. and Mrs. Lisbon) who seemed a little cuckoo - Mr. Lisbon talking to the school's window plants after the girls were taken out of school and there was just something off about Mrs. Lisbon, she seemed to me to be the absolute antagonist hiding beneath the Stepford wife exterior. She was, in my opinion, the Miss Minchin to Princess Sarah, the Principal Trunchbull to Matilda, the evil queen to Snow White. But how could it be? She was their Mother?! Again, another instance where I felt robbed of a logical explanation. I mean, everything just went downhill from when their mother decided to keep them all locked up at home didn't it? The movie was full of nuances, of thinly veiled suggestions of hate, despair - I guess one feels somewhat unbalanced because you could not really see the evil in it, you can't quite put your finger on it, you couldn't even say who it was or even if it was a person or an entity,  but it was definitely there. We are all used to movies where there was a proper good guy and a bad guy. There seemed to be none in this but still death triumphed in the end. 

One  of the things I loved though was Sofia Coppola's use of visuals. They were very sensuous, very dreamy, if it had a scent it would be vanilla laced smoke and Love's baby soft cologne. She would definitely make a good director for a movie adaptation of a fairytale. Another thing was the music, oh how I loved the music. I have a self explanation for why I love 70s music so much, and it is that whoever my nanny was ( I really can't remember sorry) at the time, would play me 70s music to sleep. That's why I always feel so comforted, so safe, so sleepy whenever I would listen to 70s and 80s music. Well that's what I like to think anyhow. Another thing I love  about the movie are the sets, especially the girls' bedrooms. All the vintage perfume bottles, the lace, the plastic beads strewn carelessly all over the mirrors, the cotton underwear - it was all very Lolita-esque but yet virginal, clean, pure. And how can we forget the boys, the storytellers, the dreamers, the (in my honest opinion) heroes of the story. They tried so hard to save them, they paid homage to them until the very end. They loved them even when the girls didn't really care for them. That's it then, this was all about young love. As teenagers, we all just want to be loved. To fit in. But where does death factor in?? Aaaand I'm back to square one. 

All in all, I loved the movie itself. It speaks to you, makes you think. Makes you remember. Also, did you know that Sofia Coppola's signature in her movies are sunlight through trees? I have to watch out for that when I watch another one of her movies. One thing I must say though, there is an eerie quality that permeates itself through the movie. After Cecilia dies, she is shown to be lounging on her favorite spot atop the branches of the towering elm tree on the Lisbon's front lawn, watching. She is also seen by one of the boys, sitting on his bed, watching him as he sleeps. It does not feel like a ghost story but it feels like a "real" ghost, if you know what I mean. I half expected to see the girls at the end scene, where the boys coming home from that joke of a party, stand at their lawn facing the Lisbon house holding up a lighter, paying homage, I half expected to see all 5 girls by their window, looking down. Never to be free.



♥ 


Suicide is a bit of a touchy subject with me. I used to lock myself in the school bathroom at 15 and cut myself with staple gun bullets just to watch myself bleed and I guess, let the internal pain out somehow. Not long after that, when my grandmother died and my first boyfriend broke up with me by having his  classmate call me up and tell me to stay away from him and that they were in love, I had my stomach pumped clean after I took all the tablets and capsules in the house  (and my mom is a nurse so we were stocked like a pharmacy) and washed them down with vodka. Let me tell you here and now, there is nothing romantic or glamourous or heroic about suicide. There was a time in my life, after I had my eldest son and found out his father did not love me anymore and was in love with a Thai singer, I was 19 then and I just stopped eating. It got to a point where I dropped to 80lbs (and I'm 5'4") and had to be fed intravenously. I just wanted to disappear. I don't remember really what made me stop thinking about wanting to die but recently I have begun thinking about death so much - not that I want to out myself but that I am scared to die. I have my kids now. I have to make a life for them first. Damnit, I want to see my grandchildren first! Maybe get married too along the way, who knows. I guess what I'm trying to say is, I understand exactly how it feels like. The infinite sadness. The despair. The hopelessness. The screaming in your soul. I was there! I've come so close to it that I've smelled it, I've tasted it and no matter what your head and heart screams out at you, always remember that there always is another way. I've always hated hearing this before whenever someone would say this to me because I didn't quite believe in it, but "there always is hope". Always remember that. 


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