The Virgin Suicides

In a Detroit suburb in the mid-70s, the Catholic Lisbons are raising five daughters with a strict hand. When the youngest, Cecilia, 13, attempts suicide, her parents engage a psychotherapist. At his suggestion, they invite some of the neighbourhood boys over for a party. During the get-together, Cecilia succeeds in killing herself. The other sisters subsequently slip further from under the parental thumb. After Lux, 14, loses her virginity to a high school crush, the parents forbid the girls any outside contact. But their isolation has dramatic consequences … The film unfolds in flashbacks as the now-grown boys reminisce about the sisters they once loved, lending the tale of a tragic “spring awakening” the air of a melancholy requiem. Following in the steps of a long tradition of youthful tragedies, The Virgin Suicides counters any romanticising of adolescence. Despite its colourful pop culture appeal, the film exudes a sense of dread and looming calamity from the start, leading the audience into a parallel juvenile universe that is as magical as it is mysterious. Sofia Coppola’s stylistically confident direction gives perfect cinematic expression to the 90s zeitgeist of girl-ism.
by Sofia Coppola
with James Woods, Kathleen Turner, Kirsten Dunst, Josh Hartnett, Michael Paré, Scott Glenn, Danny DeVito, A. J. Cook, Hanna Hall, Leslie Hayman
USA 1999 English 97’ DCP: Paramount Rating R12

For the 2023 Retrospective, internationally renowned directors, actors, and screenwriters were asked to select their personal coming-of-age favourites.
Kate Gornostai on her selection


  • James Woods
  • Kathleen Turner
  • Kirsten Dunst
  • Josh Hartnett
  • Michael Paré
  • Scott Glenn
  • Danny DeVito
  • A. J. Cook
  • Hanna Hall
  • Leslie Hayman


Director Sofia Coppola
Screenplay Sofia Coppola based on the novel by Jeffrey Eugenides
Cinematography Edward Lachman
Editing James Lyons, Melissa Kent
Sound Richard Beggs
Production Design Jasna Stefanovic
Art Director Jon P. Goulding
Costumes Nancy Steiner
Make-Up Kathleen Graham
Producers Francis Ford Coppola, Chris Hanley, Dan Halsted, Julie Costanzo

Produced by

American Zoetrope Productions

Muse Productions

Eternity Pictures

Additional information

DCP: Paramount