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The Virgin Suicides

It is not important how the Lisbon sisters looked. What is important is how the teenage boys in the neighborhood thought they looked. There is a time in the adolescent season of every boy when a particular girl seems to have materialized in his dreams, with backlighting from heaven. Sofia Coppola's "The Virgin Suicides" is narrated by an adult who speaks for "we"--for all the boys in a Michigan suburban neighborhood 25 years ago, who loved and lusted after the Lisbon girls. We know from the title and the opening words that the girls killed themselves. Most of the reviews have focused on the girls. They miss the other subject--the gawky, insecure yearning of the boys. The movie is as much about those guys, "we," as about the Lisbon girls. About how Trip Fontaine (Josh Hartnett), the leader of the pack, loses his baby fat and shoots up into a junior stud who is blindsided by sex and beauty, and dazzled by Lux Lisbon (Kirsten Dunst), who of the perfect Lisbon girls is the most perfect. In every class there is one couple who has sex while the others are only talking about it, and Trip and Lux make love on the night of the big dance. But that is not the point. The point is that she wakes up the next morning, alone, in the middle of the football field. And the point is that Trip, as the adult narrator, remembers not only that "she was the still point of the turning world then" and "most people never taste that kind of love" but also, "I liked her a lot. But out there on the football field, it was different." Yes, it was. It was the end of adolescence and the beginning of a lifetime of compromises, disenchantments and real things. First sex is ideal only in legend. In life it attaches plumbing, fluids, gropings, fumblings and pain to what was only an hour ago a platonic ideal. Trip left...

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