The Bayley Film Club: Sofia Coppola

With the round 21st we enter the world seen through eyes of Sofia Coppola. The films we have picked are as follows:

The Virgin Suicides

On the Rocks

The Virgin Suicides

Author: AED
Anticipation: 3
Enjoyment: 3
Retrospect: 3
Score: 9

Sofia Coppola’s directorial debut, “The Virgin Suicides” pictures the life of the Lisbon family. Father, – the mathematician -, mother – the housewife – and their five daughters – Cecilia, Lux, Bonnie, Mary & Therese – whose upbringing is very strict and unforgiving. The story itself is being told from the perspective of neighbourhood boys who reflect after years on the Lisbon sisters’ tragedy. Therefore, we don’t get to understand much of the girls’ psychological factors and motives. Instead, we get a blurry, dreamy picture of young women as subjects of desire. Lux (Kirsten Dunst) the most rebellious of the sisters is adored by a school playboy. An interest that leads to all of the sisters’ prom attendance for the first time and Lux’s sexual adventure on the football ground. 

The consequences of the prom night fall heavily on the sisters as Mrs Lisbon locks them all in the house and punishes Lux by burning her music records. Neighbourhood boys, separated from their source of fantasy, manage to communicate with the girls and help organise an escape. Sadly, the sisters have a different idea of how to end that evening. 

Because “The Virgin Suicides” doesn’t make the leap into the female’s mind and focuses on the male’s vision, the film lacks depth. As much as it is interesting, it’s just that (and a picture that made man of my generation fall head over heels in love with Kirsten Dunst).

On the Rocks

Author: AED
Anticipation: 2
Enjoyment: 2
Retrospect: 2
Score: 6

On The Rocks is the newest feature film from Sofia Coppola. Located in New York, we have before us a comedy-drama starring Bill Murray and Rashida Jones. 

The story is a common young marriage issue of is-he-cheating-on-me investigation powered by anything but common father-daughter relationship. Laura (Rashida Jones) is a published author on to a quest of writing her next book, happy wife of Dean (Marlon Wayans) – a successful entrepreneur in a start-up -, and a mum two daughters. With Dean consumed by work and frequent business travels, Laura finds herself suspecting that her loving husband is having an affair with his assistant. She mentions her suspicion during a phone call with her dad, Felix (Bill Murray), who arrives at her doorstep with a ready theory and practically ongoing investigation. 

Laura dominated by her larger-than-life father agrees to follow along with his guessing game and patiently listens to his theories about life and relationships which are nothing more than a list of excuses for his own lifestyle. 

The film is unravelling slowly, and if not for Bill Murray’s performance, I would find it pretty boring, since the story is quite predictable. Okay, for an easy-going evening if you love New York and Bill Murray, but Sofia Coppola has many better films in her repertoire that I would rather enjoy!

The Virgin Suicides

Author: NAT
Anticipation: 3
Enjoyment: 3
Retrospect: 2
Score: 8

“The Virgin Suicides” (1999) focuses on the teenage lives of the five Lisbon sisters, viewed – retrospectively – from the perspective of a group of infatuated neighbourhood teenage boys.

Coppola succeeds in producing a visually dreamy vibe, complemented by the cool score produced by Air. The subject, which draws on isolation and teenage suicide, is altogether much darker but helped along with a tasteful amount of cute humour.

It’s easy to see how Sophia Coppola’s style establishes cult appeal, none more so than “The Virgin Suicides”, however as I often find in her films, not much really happens and they are actually quite forgettable and gimmicky.

On the Rocks

Author: NAT
Anticipation: 2
Enjoyment: 1
Retrospect: 1
Score: 4

“On the Rocks” is, arguably, the most unoriginal film I have ever seen. It felt as though Coppola had typed “bang-average” into a random film generator, and this is what it spat out.

It lacks any thought, depth or imagination. It is completely predicable and privileged down to the boring plot, crap gags and Beastie Boys and Run DMC t-shirts. Copella embarrassingly crowbars in Bill Murrey singing, which made me feel uncomfortable, as did his character in general. 

I could have only watch ten per cent of this dross and I would still be able to tell you what happened in detail. Essentially 85 minutes of filler.  

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