Classic Scene: Telephone Call


“Telephone”

The Virgin Suicides (1999)

Directed by Sofia Coppola

The Scene: After spending the entire movie enamored with the beautiful yet enigmatic Lisbon sisters (Kirsten Dunst, AJ Cook, Leslie Hayman, Chelse Swain) across the street, the film’s narrator and his friends finally figure out a way to make contact with them. It was as easy as picking up a telephone. Confined to a bedroom by their abusive parents the Lisbon girls finally have a lifeline to the outside world. Using only the music from their respective album collections these two parties communicate with one another in a heartfelt way to let each other know that they are not alone.

The Breakdown: I imagine as a filmmaker one of the hardest things that can be asked of you is to make an emotionally heavy scene between two parties who are not talking to each other much less even in the same room. Somehow, in only her rookie outing as a director Sofia Coppola nails it in such a way even the strongest of audience members could get choked up. The scene cuts back and forth between the two rooms where this moment is playing out, and when necessary even shifts to a split screen to illustrate that despite the distance, they are now connected. Without saying a word, each young member of the cast in this scene tells a story with their facial expressions. Earlier the film, a psychotically strict mother deprived the Lisbon sisters of a large chunk of their music collection, so the boys using music as a means to contact them hits with even more power. When these two groups meet in person following this tender moment it is nothing short of heartbreaking, but the fact they had this interaction is reassuring for the audience.

Best Bit: The music choices made by these young people to express their emotions is top notch. Songs like “Far Away” by Carol King and “Hello, It’s Me” by Todd Rundgren, “Alone Again (Naturally)” by Gilbert O’Sullivan are not only classic songs but they also perfectly truly capture the emotion and and spirit of the.