Picks and Pans Review: The Virgin Suicides

updated 05/01/2000 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/01/2000 01:00AM

Kirsten Dunst, Kathleen Turner

In 1990, Francis Ford Coppola cast his daughter Sofia, an untested actress, as young Mary Corleone in The Godfather, Part III. The reviews of her tentative performance were cruel, although her gawkishness was actually rather touching. Now 28, she returns to direct her first feature, a strange but alluring ode to the adolescent feminine mystique.

The five Lisbon girls, daughters of a twitty high school teacher and a brooding, repressive housewife, are beautifully listless and sexually charged. They drape themselves across the furniture with expressions of dazed bliss. When their mere existence begins to overexcite the local boys, the mother decrees they can no longer leave the house, and they commit suicide. None of this is supposed to be realistic. Dreamy, a bit silly, the movie is like a ballet for mermaids: Despairing of ever getting ashore to meet a prince, they sink to the ocean floor and expire. (R)

Bottom Line: Another talented Coppola

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