In her directorial debut, Sofia Coppola (daughter of the famous Francis Ford Coppola) goes her own way. She stays true to the book by American writer Jeffrey Eugenides and follows its very atypical first person plural narrator of the teenage boys, complimenting it with a very distinctive visual language that later became her trademark. This movie is a beautiful, eclectic story. Even though the film is set in Grosse Pointe, Michigan during the 1970s, Coppola decided to shoot a great deal of the movie here in Toronto.
The story in this movie is told by a group of teenage boys who live in a Michigan suburb and become quite obsessed with the lives of their beautiful neighbours, five doomed sisters between the ages of 13 and 17. Living what seems a perfect life, the Catholic Lisbon family receives a shock when one of the sisters, Cecilia, tries to commit suicide. The parents (James Woods, Kathleen Turner) are more vigilant after the incident and become very strict when the other sister, Lux (Kirsten Dunst) breaks many of their rules while dating school playboy Trip Fontaine (Josh Hartnett). The sisters are taken out of school and kept home, in full isolation, as nobody is allowed to visit them. The story takes an unfortunate turn when the sisters decide to take their lives together. The Lisbon girls' sudden suicides continue to fascinate their community. Everyone struggles to find an explanation for the tragedy.
Want to know more behind-the-scenes information? Watch this Making Of Special video:
- Big names such as Kim Basinger, Alyssa Milano, and Alicia Silverstone were considered for the main roles, but they either turned the offer down or were too busy with other projects.
- Another company was working on an adaptation at the same time, but Sofia's script was better, so they used hers instead — which turned out to be a great decision!
- We don't really see many different locations. The girls' lives are very much concentrated around their home and school only.
- The interior and exterior scenes of the high school were filmed at Monarch Park Collegiate. Watch the homecoming dance scene in which Lux flirts with Trip.
- Shortly after this film was released, Hayden Christensen (who grew up in the GTA) got the role of Anakin Skywalker in the Star Wars prequels, which changed his life as an actor forever.
- Lux loses her virginity to Trip after the homecoming dance on the field of Varsity Stadium, where she wakes up the morning after, alone.
- The cemetery that you see in the movie is actually St. John's Norway, just off Kingston Road.
- The film was released on May 19th, 1999 at the Cannes Film Festival, and almost immediately became internationally acclaimed. It was nominated for many Critics Society Awards around the world.
- The original soundtrack for the Virgin Suicides was made by the electronic French duo, Air. Listen to one of the beautiful songs with a rather funny video that will guide you through the whole movie:
- The famous Lisbon house where the five young lives tragically ended is this house on Dunloe Road in Toronto. Bad omen? I wonder if the residents ever watched the movie and were scared to go to the kitchen afterwards!Watch the final scene to get a peek inside the unlucky house:
Filming Locations Map
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Virgin Suicides on IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes