Originally Written and Posted on 2/2/08 at Epinions.com
The world of Sofia Coppola has always been known for its moody imagery and haunting themes of alienation. Starting with her 1999 feature film debut The Virgin Suicides based on Jeffrey Eugenides' novel about the suicides of five young girls and the impact it had on four neighborhood boys. Coppola's adaptation of Eugenides' novel took Eugenides' unique narrative and transformed it into a dream-like, nostalgia-driven film with a haunting film score by the French electronic duo Air and an additional soundtrack featuring two additional cuts from Air but also music from the 1970s that appeared on the film.
The soundtrack to The Virgin Suicides is an album that takes the music from the film and give it an album that is dream-like and haunting while conveying a sense of nostalgia. With some modern cuts from Air and the 1990s power-pop band Sloan, the soundtrack is meant to be a soundtrack that explores the mind of the Lisbon girls and the characters they connect and disconnect with. Assembled by longtime Coppola associate Brian Reitzell, the soundtrack features cuts by Al Green, Heart, the Hollies, Todd Rundgren, Gilbert O'Sullivan, 10cc, and Styx. The soundtrack to The Virgin Suicides is a lovely, enchanting soundtrack from the mind of Sofia Coppola.
Heart's Magic Man with its chugging rhythms, wailing guitar solos, and dreamy, acoustic guitar washes from Nancy Wilson to complement older sister Ann's swooning vocals. The song is played to emphasize the presence of heartthrob Trip Fontaine (Josh Hartnett) as he woos and charms all the girls in the prep school he attends including one Lux Lisbon (Kirsten Dunst). Heart's classic song is definitely powerful that includes a noisy, synthesizer solo in the coda. Todd Rundgren's Hello, It's Me is a lovely ballad with lovely organ accompaniment and Rundgren's crooning vocals. The song is a wonderful track to emphasize the desperate connection of the four neighborhood boys and the Lisbon girls through phone calls with records played in the background. Everything You've Done Wrong by 90s power-pop band Sloan is a wonderful, upbeat song that emphasizes the style of 70s power-pop as it's a great song that sounds like it's from the 70s while it was heard in the background for the Lisbon girls' trip to the prom with Fontaine and his entourage (that included Hayden Christensen).
Air's dreamy-instrumental Ce Matin La from the band's seminal 1998 album Moon Safari makes an appearance with its evocative layers of synthesizers, acoustic guitars, and gorgeous string arrangements. The track is used as background when the quartet of neighborhood boys read from the diary of the late Cecilia Lisbon (Hannah R. Hall) as they venture into her dream-like state of mind as well as the Lisbon girls who also have a fascination with the dream-like world. The Air That I Breathe by the Hollies is another 70s classic with its crying guitar solo intro and lovely vocals that is truly one of the decade's finest love songs. The song is played during a party at the Lisbon house that would eventually end in tragedy as it conveys the melancholic mood of Cecilia. Al Green's soulful cover of the Bee Gees' How Can You Mend A Broken Heart? is another fascinating love song led by Green's soulful vocals and a smooth, R&B instrumentation background. In the film, it's played as part of Trip Fontaine’s fascination with Lux in whom he pined for.
Gilbert O'Sullivan's Alone Again (Naturally) is a lovely, mid-tempo pop song that features a thumping piano track and O'Sullivan's Robin Gibb-like vocals in this amazing song that is played in the neighborhood boys' attempt to contact and connect with the already-quarantined Lisbon girls. 10CC's I'm Not In Love is a wonderfully dreamy, spacey song with strange lyrics as the song is played during the prom scene as the version of this song in this record is the longer, six-minute album version featuring extended instrumentals and vocal choruses. Todd Rundgren's A Dream Goes On Forever is a wonderful pop song with uses of harpsichord accompaniments and machine-like beats that is one of Rundgren's most kaleidoscopic songs as it is another song played during the Lisbon girls' tragic party.
Heart's Crazy On You that begins with a wonderful acoustic guitar solo from Nancy Wilson is a furious rocker with snarling electric guitar riffs and Ann Wilson's wailing vocals as it's an amazing song that is played to present the first kiss between Trip Fontaine and Lux Lisbon. Air's Playground Love in this version of the album is actually known as the (Vibraphone Version) as it is an instrumental of the song played through a vibraphone and an ambient electronic background as it is a haunting track that conveys the isolation of the Lisbon girls following the events during the film. The album closer is Come Sail Away by Styx that is a very dramatic, theatrical song penned by its leader and vocalist Dennis DeYoung with its shimmering opening and dream-like presentation as it then becomes a full-fledge rocker with the twin guitars of Tommy Shaw and J.Y. The song is played during the prom scene as a moment of celebration.
Tracks that don't appear in the soundtrack aside from Air’s film score (which is on a separate soundtrack of its own), include the Bee Gees' Come To Me, Carole King's So Far Away, Electric Light Orchestra's Strange Magic, and four additional cuts from Sloan. The Sloan cuts were also used as instrumental backgrounds since the band are known as simply as a power-pop band of the 90s reminiscent of bands like Badfinger and the Raspberries. The Bee Gees and Carole King songs were played during the phone-connection scenes and the ELO song was played in the prom scene.
While the exclusion of a few cuts makes the original soundtrack to The Virgin Suicides makes the album feel a bit incomplete. The tracks that do appear on the soundtrack, notably the material from the 1970s makes the album feel worthwhile as well as giving those who lived in that decade a sense of nostalgia. Though nowadays, the album is hard to find in stores, it can be found through file-sharing programs. Yet, the album is still a must-have for not just fans of the film but also for completists of Sofia Coppola's film work and her soundtracks. In the end, for a soundtrack that brings a sense of nostalgia along with some dream-like cuts to convey the film's mood, the soundtrack to The Virgin Suicides is an overall excellent purchase.
Sofia Coppola Film Reviews: Lick the Star - The Virgin Suicides - Lost in Translation - Marie Antoinette - Somewhere - The Bling Ring
Sofia Coppola Soundtracks: Air-The Virgin Suicides - Lost in Translation OST - Marie Antoinette OST - (The Bling Ring OST)
Sofia Coppola Essays: Sofia Coppola: The Videos and Ads 1993-2008 - LIT 5th Anniversary Essay - The Auteurs #1: Sofia Coppola
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