The Virgin Suicides

Written and directed by Sofia Coppola

Coppola has a way with actors, pulling knowing performances out of Turner and Woods that make one chuckle at the notion that these two were ever perceived as a sexpot and a tough guy, respectively. She also coaxes terrific work out of the five sisters, a tricky feat considering that they're essentially an allegorical presence, representing both budding passion and detached beauty. And Hartnett is hilarious, seeming for all the world like an extra from Dazed and Confused, his period-specific haircut forming his head into the shape of the penis that guides his actions.

The work is particularly impressive, given that the director freely admits that she lacks firsthand knowledge of suburban living. She certainly gets the colloquialisms ("Want some more pop?") and the landscape (diseased trees reduced to stumps) on the nose. True, there's nothing new here, and Coppola's cultural appraisal certainly isn't as ballsy and radical as she seems to think, but The Virgin Suicides may stand -- for the collapsed fantasies, libidinous freedom and cold reprobation of the age -- as a significant document of the daydream. Did our world really look like this? Were those princesses ever really there? The movie wisely leaves us to wonder.

Opens May 5 at the Tivoli.

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