suicide blondes

February 15, 2008 at 2:54 pm 2 comments

Tragedy is an entropic genre: it precedes from order to chaos, and is concerned most frequently with the demise of families. Sometimes this is the result of a particular flaw. In The Virgin Suicides that flaw is the parents’  desire to protect their daughters from the 1970s by keeping them like flowers in the attic.  Locked away from the nascent decline of auto manufacturing in Michigan, and from their lives, including the boys across the street, the film directs our attention to the futility of protectionist policies for the domestic manufacture of women.

Enter Michael Moore. Well, actually, as close as we get to Mrs. Lisbon (Kathleen Turner) and Me, is Mr. Lisbon, whose hothouse hobbies include model planes and obtuse fathering. He boors the neighborhood narrators and slips gradually toward ghost during his daughters’ confinement. In a film with a number of painful scenes, Mr. Lisbon’s inability to connect, or even speak with Father Moody (Scott Glenn) suggests the fathomless quality of his own confinement.

The younger males are more engaged. They note that the women know everything about them, while they appear to only know what my compatriot Raccoon calls mystique.  Like the hidden hand of the market the film could suggest that seemingly disastrous situations will naturally correct themselves. The boys will see a return to equilibrium, a bit of order. Maybe they marry. That would be the comedy re-mix. Instead the film yields a tragic tale of social and industrial decline. The automotive industry outlives the girls, but their death-rattles are conjoined.

Let me be clear: the 70s were socially dangerous because the economy was in danger. I began by calling the film a tragedy, in fact it is stagflation.


Entry filed under: Film, thurs afternoon, virgin suicides. Tags: , , , , , .

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. anaj  |  February 15, 2008 at 8:40 pm

    Enter Michael Moore?

  • 2. skunkcabbage  |  February 16, 2008 at 3:01 pm

    Well, not really, of course…
    In fact a reporter does show up in the film and has little success with Mrs. Lisbon. Whether Moore would fair better must remain comical conjecture.


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