The Virgin Suicides ★★★★★

How you execute a feature film this well on the first try eludes me, but that’s why Sofia Coppola rules. They say to avoid voiceover in Screenwriting 101, but here it’s effective, weaving together a narrative from disparate perspectives and times. It’d be silly not to, too, as Eugenides’ writing (as adapted by Coppola), is razor-sharp; at once amusing and macabre. Watching this made me want to read the book, and that’s rare of most adaptations. (Though, listening to it, I couldn’t help but feel like I’d put on “Lil’ Goodfellas”.)

I was thrilled by the editing choices, many of them artistic flourishes: eye twinkles, x-ray vision, daydreams… film is great, isn’t it? I have techniques to steal.

The more pronounced editing is the music, which is surely also a character in the film: whether we’re hearing “Crazy on You” during a makeout, watching a crate full of rock ’n’ roll albums tumble down the stairs, or witnessing its stand-in for phone calls, it couldn’t be better applied; I may buy the soundtrack after this.

To say that this captures the awkwardness of adolescence is an understatement; though my parents were never as restrictive as the Lisbons, I couldn’t help but squeal in delight (a sort of schadenfreude–empathy) as the male characters struggled to socialize with their crushes in a weird, forced party.

Seeing young Kirsten Dunst and Josh Hartnett was a trip—sure, I’d been introduced to them only a few years after this film, in “Spider-Man” and “Pearl Harbor” respectively, but you grow with the actors, and forget that aging happens. Preservation of the past: is this not the most wonderful and scary thing about photography?

I thoroughly enjoyed their characters’ love story as well, perfect in its imperfectness. It’s impossible for me, as someone who didn’t even get to go senior prom, to see scenes like the homecoming and not long for that kind of romance, one that compels you to break all the rules, to forget about everybody else, to lose all sense of time. I did say imperfect, but that’s how these things go, no? Brief but intense. Even at 97 minutes, the film feels similarly.