“In a world as macho as Hollywood, the daughter of, probably, most important director of the second half of the twentieth century became the same as her father, it sounded, at least, a joke.”
In 1999 The Virgin Suicides premiered, which was the debut feature for Sofia Coppola. Though she had previously directed a short film called Lick The Star, her official presentation as a director was her adaption of the novel by Jeffery Eugenides. Before all of this, her only contact with the seventh art was thought the hands of her father, Francis Ford Coppola, the acclaimed director of the saga The Godfather. Then, it did not seem as thought her interaction with cinema was beyond that. Suddenly, she surprised locals and strangers, with her debut. Surprisingly, she signed for an adaptation for a novel that was so complex and subtle in equal parts. In a world as sexist as Hollywood, the daughter of one of the most important directors of all time, followed his footsteps and did the exact same as he. It sounded like a joke, why did she pursue this? Her life was practically taken care of. She could do whatever she had wanted… so why a director. Being a daughter of such a famous director she didn’t need to do anything. But, for precisely that reason she did. Sofia Coppola decided to stop being “the daughter of”, and decided to become what she is today. An independent woman who fights against the frivolity and comfort that she received from the status of her father.
The critics were perplexed by the debut of Sofia Coppola. Someone they thought was a simple daddy’s girl that relied on a cushion to fall. But: she adapted a complex novel that deals precisely with what she had just done, making a decision. If you have yet to see this movie you should reserve time to do so immediately. I give you my word that you will like it.
“It’s very clear, doctor, that you’ve never been a thirteen-year-old girl.”
Have you already seen it? Let’s keep going.
The Virgins Suicide is a film that leaves no one indifferent, as you will know by now. The Lisbon sisters commit suicide in a short space of time, that’s the synopsis of the film. There’s no more. But what else is there and what has the story to do with Sofia Coppola? Well, although the director is still alive today, there is much of the Lisbon sisters in her. These girls live on the outskirts of Detroit, in a typical residential neighborhood, the kind everyone has in their heads thanks to the movies: large houses with unfenced front garden, freshly cut grass, leafy trees, few cars passing through the street, eternal summer feeling. They lead a simple life, but marked by the pressure of being beautiful teenagers. This is pretensed by all the children of the neighborhood, the suffocating atmosphere created by their father, teachers, and, above all, by their mother, whom is too Catholic even for the priest of their parish. Around these factors, the neighborhood kids, in love with all of them at the same time, question why they ended their lives. The first one to commit suicide was the little one, Cecilia Lisbon. Her attempt is the first thing you see in the movie, slitting her wrists in the bathroom without success. When she is in the hospital, a doctor approaches her and asks her why she had done that, adding that she is too young to know how bad life is. Cecilia answers with the true key of the film: “It is very clear, doctor, that you have never been a thirteen-year-old girl”. In that sentence the real drama is recognized, which leads each and every one of the sisters to make the decision to commit suicide. Faced with what everyone expects from them, lacking their own opinions and feelings, they decide that they already have enough. This provides a lesson to each and every one of those who had pressured their lives.
Sofia Coppola chooses to adapt this novel, to prove that she does not limit herself to receiving scripts made by others. Her life parallels with this film as a slight, subtle metaphor. She could have let her life be decided for her in the footsteps of her father’s fame, but her intention was different, one that nobody had considered beforehand. The Virgin Suicides could well have been a disaster, but to Sofia Coppola she lived her life and created a masterpiece. This cult film has thoughtfully been produced to its full potential, and has not left anyone indifferent who has seen it.