REVIEW: WESTWORLD – SEASON 3

Westworld (2016)

Starring

Evan Rachel Wood (Frozen II)
Thandie Newton (Crash)
Jeffrey Wright (The Batman)
Tessa Thompson (Thor: Ragnarok)
Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad)
Ed Harris (The Abyss)
Luke Hemsworth (The Anomaly)
Simon Quarterman (The Scorpion King 2)
Vincent Cassel (Underwater)
Angela Sarafyan (1915)
Tao Okamoto (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice)

Evan Rachel Wood in Westworld (2016)

Recurring / Notable Guest cast

John Gallagher Jr. (10 Cloverfield Lane)
Tommy Flanagan (Sons of Anarchy)
Scott Mescudi (Meadowland)
Pom Klementieff (Avengbers: Endgame)
Russell Wong (Undoing)
Payman Maadi (6 Underground)
Lena Waithe (Ready Player One)
Rafi Gavron (A Star Is Born)
Phoebe Tonkin (The Originals)
Thomas Kretschmann (Jungle)
Gina Torres (Firefly)
Wayne Péré (Cloak & Dagger)
Michael Filipowich (Earth: Final Conflict)
Charmin Lee (Little Red Wagon)
Rodrigo Santoro (300)
Leonardo Nam (He’s Just Not That Into You)
Ptolemy Slocum (Hitch)
Michael Ealy (2 Fast 2 Furious)
Nadine Lewington (Bigger)
Katja Herbers (Suskind)
Hiroyuki Sanada (47 Ronin)
Jefferson Mays (Alfie)
Iddo Goldberg (A Little Trip to Heaven)
Enrico Colantoni (Veronica Mars)
Jimmi Simpson (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter)
Peter Mullan (Braveheart)
Jonathan Tucker (Charlie’s Angels)
Siena Goines (Jada)
Louis Ferreira (Stargate Universe)
Elizabeth Anweis (Batwoman)
Nelson Lee (Blade: The Series)
Clifton Collins Jr. (Star Trek)

Aaron Paul in Westworld (2016)One of the best sci-fi shows of all time and offers deeper thought than a philosophy or religious course. This show is utterly beautiful while also gritty, and even eerie at times. This show is a microcosm that represents what humans are capable of. Unpredictable, the script is intelligently written and pieced together. The filming is memorizing in cinematographic appeal.Among the many themes throughout Westworld, the nature of reality and the nature of humanity are at it’s core. This show’s plot, the logistical details of the AI, and the universe they exist in are well thought out and blend together nicely. Every character has a backstory and motives in such a way that builds interesting character depth. It is fun to see how characters adapt to the world as they learn. While multiple plot lines are intertwined, raw action and twists constantly occur in this crazy universe that is constantly on the verge of catastrophe.Thandie Newton and Simon Quarterman in Westworld (2016)This show addresses questions such as: What does it mean to be human? What does it mean to exist? What is my purpose? This is explored and searched for by the main characters. While these are introspective questions that can be explored internally; parallel to this musing, their search is embedded in the reality they find themselves in externally. Moreover, it is represented by the mysterious prodding and puzzles intrinsic to the immediate world in which they exist.Tessa Thompson in Westworld (2016)The sci-fi elements of the show touch on advanced AI, multiple realities, self awareness, machine learning, big data, and big tech privacy. This show is spot on by metaphorically addressing these concepts. These issues are becoming more relevant by the day in our lives by shaping the future of human society.Evan Rachel Wood in Westworld (2016)Without a doubt, sci-fi has never been done better, making movies such as the Matrix fall to the feet of Westworld and it’s unprecedented splendor.

REVIEW: CHARLIE’S ANGELS (2019)

Starring

Kristen Stewart (Twilight)
Naomi Scott (Aladdin)
Ella Balinska (Run Sweetheart Run)
Elizabeth Banks (Power Rangers)
Patrick Stewart (Star Trek: Picard)
Djimon Hounsou (Shazam)
Sam Claflin (Me Before You)
Jonathan Tucker (The Next Three Days)
Nat Faxon (Disenchantment)
Chris Pang (Crazy Rich Asians)
Luis Gerardo Méndez (Murder Mystery)
Noah Centineo (The Perfect Date)
Robert Clotworthy (American Sniper)
Hailee Steinfeld (Dickinson)
Lili Reinhart (Riverdale)
Ronda Rousey (Fast & Furtious 7)
Laverne Cox (Can You Keep a Secret?)
Jaclyn Smith (The Bourne Identity TV)

Kristen Stewart in Charlie's Angels (2019)A team of Angels, led by senior operative John Bosley, capture international embezzler Jonny Smith in Rio de Janeiro and turn him over to American authorities. A year later, the European division of the Townsend Agency is informed that Elena Houghlin, an engineer and programmer employed by entrepreneur Alexander Brok, wants to expose her superiors, namely Brok’s head of development, Peter Fleming, for covering up a discovery about how an energy conservation device that she helped invent, named Calisto, has the potential to trigger fatal seizures when used.Ella Balinska in Charlie's Angels (2019)She meets with operative Edgar “Bosley” in Hamburg to turn over her findings, but an assassin named Hodak ambushes the meeting and subsequently kills Edgar and leaves Elena to drown. Edgar’s protégé, Jane Kano, rescues her and brings her to operative Rebekah “Bosley” with the help of her partner, Sabina Wilson. Meanwhile, John, who has since retired from the agency, discovers that Rebekah has tagged him with the agency’s specialized subdermal implant without his knowledge.Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott, and Ella Balinska in Charlie's Angels (2019)Rebekah tasks Sabina and Jane, joined by Elena, with breaking into Brok’s corporate headquarters to steal the remaining Calisto prototypes before they can be duplicated. Elena finds one of the devices but is forced to use it to escape, killing a security guard in the process, while the other prototypes are already gone, and Fleming is identified as the thief. Rebekah tracks him to Istanbul, where Jane utilizes one of her old intelligence contacts, Fatima, to locate Fleming. They track him to a remote rock quarry, where the supposedly-imprisoned Smith is revealed to be Fleming’s intermediary for selling Calisto. Hodak is also present and kills Fleming before the Angels break up the sale. Rebekah suddenly disappears, allowing Smith and Hodak to escape with the prototypes.Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott, and Ella Balinska in Charlie's Angels (2019)Returning to their safehouse, Sabina shares her growing belief that Rebekah is secretly working against the agency and has been manipulating them to steal Calisto for her own benefit. While the three ponder Sabina’s suspicion, the safehouse is bombed. Rebekah shows up only to be shot by John, who has come to rescue Elena. Sabina and Jane manage to survive and seek medical help from Fatima. Rebekah reappears and explains that John is the real traitor and that he has spent the last few decades secretly building his own network within the agency after he was passed over to succeed the late Charlie Townsend.Elizabeth Banks, Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott, and Ella Balinska in Charlie's Angels (2019)John takes Elena to a party hosted by Brok in Chamonix, who reveals himself as the mastermind behind the attempt to assassinate Elena and, unbeknownst to him, John’s plan to weaponize Calisto. Using Elena’s colleague Langston as a hostage, John forces her to program a Calisto device to kill both Langston and herself before leaving. The Angels, having deduced his plan due to the information provided by Smith, who is later revealed to have defected to their side, show up and rescue Elena and Langston, Elena having already disabled the Calisto device. Jane exacts revenge by impaling Hodak on a spike, while Rebekah catches up with John and his men. Outnumbered, she has other Angels posing as guests subdue the men, after which Sabina knocks out John with a punch. Brok is arrested for conspiracy, and Jane and Langston start a relationship. Elena is recruited as an Angel by the Townsend Agency after passing a series of rigorous training exercises In a mid-credits scene, Elena receives an official Angels tattoo and congratulations from Charlie.Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott, and Ella Balinska in Charlie's Angels (2019)I seem to be in a minority here but I quite enjoyed the movie. Reading some of the reviews I was quite curious as to what’s so bad about it. So went in with very low expectations. In fact to be honest I preferred this to the earlier one starring Diaz & Barrymore. I thought the cast was fresh and did a pretty good job. I’m not a big Kristen Stewart fan but I liked her in this one. The overall pace wasn’t boring, the action was pretty good and not over the top as compared to the earlier movies. Banks did a decent job as a director as would be expected of any movie of this kind. Frankly I’m surprised that it was such a big flop.

REVIEW: WESTWORLD – SEASON 2

Westworld (2016)

Starring

Evan Rachel Wood (The Ides of March)
Thandie Newton (Crash)
Jeffrey Wright (The Batman)
James Marsden (X-Men)
Tessa Thompson (Thor: Ragnarok)
Fares Fares (Chernobyl)
Luke Hemsworth (The Anomaly)
Louis Herthum (What/If)
Simon Quarterman (THe Scorpion King 2)
Talulah Riley (Bloodshot)
Rodrigo Santoro (300)
Gustaf Skarsgård (Kidz in da Hood)
Ed Harris (The Truman show)
Ingrid Bolsø Berdal (Hercules)
Clifton Collins Jr. (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood)
Angela Sarafyan (The Immigrant)
Katja Herbers (Sonny Boy)
Shannon Woodward (Adult World)
Anthony Hopkins (Hannibal)
Zahn McClarnon (Doctor Sleep)

Thandie Newton in Westworld (2016)

Recurrin / Notable Guest Cast

Betty Gabriel (Unfriended: Dark Web)
Jimmi Simpson (White House Down)
Ben Barnes (The Punisher)
Peter Mullan (Hostiles)
Jonathan Tucker (Pulse)
Leonardo Nam (He’s Just Not That into You (film))
Ptolemy Slocum (Hitch)
Martin Sensmeier (Yellowstone)
Tao Okamoto (Batman v Superman)
Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad)
Neil Jackson (BLade: The Series)
Fredric Lehne (lost)
Currie Graham (Agent Carter)
Rinko Kikuchi (Pacific Rim)
Hiroyuki Sanada (The Wolverine)
Kiki Sukezane (Heroes Reborn)
Masayoshi Haneda (Edge of Tomorrow)
Lili Simmons (The Purge TV)
Erica Luttrell (Stargate: Atlantis)
Sidse Babett Knudsen (Inferno)
Gina Torres (Firefly)
Julia Jones (Jonah Hex)
Booboo Stewart (Descendants)
Sela Ward (Gone Girl)
Jack Conley (The Cell)

Evan Rachel Wood in Westworld (2016)The first season of Westworld, and maybe the second, can be encapsulated by an exasperation-inducing exchange in Sunday night’s premiere, in which William (Ed Harris, but Jimmi Simpson plays him, too) encounters an android boy (Oliver Bell) modeled after Ford (Anthony Hopkins, whose character died last season). The boy, in quaint pedal pushers, speaks in digital tongues to William, teasing and prodding him to participate in the park’s games now that the stakes are real. When William grouses about his riddles, the boy reproaches the man in the black hat: “Everything is code here, William.” Soon after, bullets fly.Thandie Newton and Simon Quarterman in Westworld (2016)Maybe I’m being too harsh. Yes, it’s obvious—but for the viewer, his words have deeper implications than they do for ol’ Black-Hat Bill. It’s true that everything in Westworld is code—artificial, semiotic, programmed, significant. In the first season, the audience was introduced to an adult playground, populated with fleshy androids designed for human gratification. As the hosts gained sentience and found a path to liberation, they became stand-ins for human fears: the silent omnipresence of technology, the exploitation of the oppressed, the struggle for self-actualization, and/or the horrifying immortality of creation. They are also, in Season 2, scattered across time and space, broken into contingents of unlikely pairings and shaky alliances, trying to survive within the parameters of the sandbox created last season.If a prestige drama is a complex machine, what’s unique about Westworld is how willing the show is to depict that machine without explaining the processes that comprise it. It’s committed to the endpoint of its fantasies, and surprisingly vague on process, which is one of the reasons Season 1 could be so frustrating. It often feels as if Westworld works backwards—first presenting a scenario, then spending endless future scenes explaining how that scenario came to exist. (I await an explanation for why Evan Rachel Wood’s Dolores is clearly wearing cream foundation and blush in her initial close-ups this season; perhaps we’ll learn that the robot women, freed from their masters, have started experimenting with lipstick feminism.)

Westworld this season is a story about games. The park is supposed to be a hermetically sealed playground that allows participants to safely pursue anything without consequence, but the series itself emphasizes that this notion is actually impossible. Season 2 introduces two new parks; one, as hinted at in the trailers and in details of Season 1, is a facsimile of shogunate Japan, starring Hiroyuki Sanada and Rinko Kikuchi. The other, which I won’t spoil, is such a pointed fantasy of white male entitlement that it leads the viewer to see all of Westworld’s illusions as fantasies designed for that exact viewer. Both underscore one of Westworld’s most disturbing details: practically every female host has been designed to be some kind of whore.Ed Harris in Westworld (2016)The series is not subtle with these thematics, even as it revels in the fantasies it presents. When we get to Shogun World, it’s hard to tell if the show means to comment on orientalism, or if it’s just showcasing samurai and geishas because they look cool. All of its portentous conversations between hosts and humans about android consciousness exist somewhere in the space between an aha moment and an eye roll—without fully committing to either. The spoken discourse is a red herring that distracts from what’s really at play in the show. The hosts aren’t human, and the human characters aren’t interesting. What instead pulsates with life is the sandbox itself: the potential energy of this playground, with its unexplored easter eggs yet to be discovered.James Marsden, Evan Rachel Wood, and Talulah Riley in Westworld (2016)Which is why it is so satisfying—if still rather confusing—that in Season 2, the show has committed to spinning out, sending its sprawling cast on side quests as though they were Dungeons and Dragons campaigners. And as it unfolds, this iteration of Westworld becomes less a story about games than it is a series of games about story. Stakes, climax, and continuity are just tools to be tweaked and adjusted; characters’ personalities and motivations are little more than quirks, drawn from a deck or determined by a die. As the show posited in its first season finale, the hosts’ backstories—the things they keep forgetting and remembering—are both pre-programmed methods of control and pathways to deeper meaning. Westworld follows both avenues, simultaneously. As a result, it’s a scrambled, tabletop R.P.G. of a season, in ways that are both supremely satisfying and incredibly frustrating. Many adventures in Season 2 have the quality of a dungeon master inventing a plotline on the fly, after a few rolls in a row have landed the campaign somewhere unexpected.Evan Rachel Wood and Jeffrey Wright in Westworld (2016)It’s a feeling that other shows might try to avoid. But Westworld is instead embracing it, leaning into chaos, actively doing all of the things that it’s sowing distrust in: producing a mythology, playing a game, telling a story. Its deep ambivalence toward the stuff it’s made of is ultimately what matters about the show, more than the thing itself. Just as Arnold (Jeffrey Wright) installed reveries into the hosts to provide them with a pathway to self-consciousness, Westworld itself is a collection of reveries, seeking to locate its own center. This might be why Bernard (also Wright)—the host version of Arnold—becomes the viewer’s surrogate in the second season. Wright is a criminally overlooked performer in general, but in Season 2 he is the emotional register that the rest of the show is calibrated around. A human consciousness turned digital, he is a part of both worlds—both the watchmaker and the watch. Through him and characters like him, the narrative takes on the structure of the maze metaphor from Season 1—a convoluted, repetitive path towards the middle.Ed Harris in Westworld (2016)Westworld encourages the viewer to see its animated puzzles from every angle. It seems less and less that the show knows what it wants to be about, which will always be a knock against it. But with much more centripetal force than last season, it also draws the audience towards its own center, in its own vivid journey toward self-consciousness. It’s easy to get sucked in to Westworld’s reveries. It’s harder to convince yourself that its dark fantasies are just a game.

REVIEW REVIEW: PULSE (2006)

CAST

Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars)
Ian Somerhalder (The Vampire DIaries)
Christina Milian (Bring it On 5)
Rick Gonzalez (War of The Worlds)
Jonathan Tucker (Hostage)
Samm Levine (Not Another Teen Movie)
Octavia Spencer (Mom)
Ron Rifkin (Alias)
Riki Lindhome (Million Dollar Baby)
Brad Dourif (Child’s Play)

When Josh Ockmann (Jonathan Tucker) enters a dark university library intending to meet his friend Douglas Zeigler (Kel O’Neill), he is attacked by a humanoid spirit that sucks the life force out of him. Some days later, Josh’s girlfriend, Mattie Webber (Kristen Bell), visits his apartment, seeing evidence that it has not been well kept. Josh tells Mattie to wait in the kitchen while he walks off. While waiting she finds Josh’s pet cat, locked in a closet dying from severe malnutrition. But when she rushes to tell him, she finds he has committed suicide by hanging himself with an Ethernet cable.
Mattie and her friends begin to receive online messages from Josh asking for help but assume that Josh’s computer is still on and that a virus is creating the messages. Mattie learns that Josh’s computer has been sold to Dex McCarthy (Ian Somerhalder), who finds a number of strange videos on the computer. Mattie receives a package that Josh mailed two days prior to his death. Inside are rolls of red tape and a message telling her that the tape keeps “them” out, although he does not know why. Later, Dex visits Mattie and shows her video messages Josh was sending to Ziegler. Josh had hacked Ziegler’s computer system and then distributed a virus. This virus had unlocked a portal that connected the realm of the living to the realm of the dead. Josh believed he had coded a counter to the virus and wanted to meet Ziegler at the library. Josh’s counter-program is found on a memory stick taped inside the PC case with red tape.Dex and Mattie visit Zeigler and find his room entirely plastered in red tape. They believe the red tape keeps the spirits out. Zeigler tells them of a project he worked on where he found “frequencies no one knew existed.” Opening these frequencies somehow allowed the spirits to travel to the world of the living. Zeigler also tells them that these spirits “take away your will to live” and where to find the main server infected with the virus. Dex and Mattie find the server and upload Josh’s fix, causing the system to crash and the spirits to vanish. Moments later, however, the system reboots and the spirits return leaving Mattie and Dex with no option but to flee the city by car. Over the car radio, Mattie and Dex hear a radio report from the Army announcing the location of several “safe zones” where there are no Internet connections, cell phones, or televisions. As Dex and Mattie drive to a safe zone, the film concludes with a voice-over from Mattie saying “We can never go back. The cities are theirs. Our lives are different now. What was meant to connect us to one another instead connected us to forces that we could have never imagined. The world we knew is gone, but the will to live never dies. Not for us, and not for them,” and clips of abandoned cities, including a window of an apartment with Josh looking through it.
pulse-stillAll the acting was up to the task without being exceptional. The story, while rather linear, was interesting enough to keep everything going, and I personally found the ending quite satisfying. It proves that horror does not merely have to need to have lots of gore, but can rely on an interesting premise.

REVIEW: THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (2003)

CAST

Jessica Biel (The A-Team)
Jonathan Tucker (Hostage)
Erica Leerhsen (Wrong Turn 2)
Mike Vogel (Bates Motel)
Eric Balfour (Skyline)
Andrew Bryniarski (Batman Returns)
R. Lee Ermey (Full Metal Jacket
David Dorfman (The Ring)
Lauren German (Hostel: Part 2)
John Larroquette (Stripes)

On August 18, 1973, five young adults—Erin, her boyfriend Kemper, and their friends Morgan, Andy, and Pepper—are on their way to a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert after traveling to Mexico to buy marijuana. While driving through Texas, the group pick up a distraught hitchhiker walking in the middle of the road. After trying to talk to the hitchhiker, who speaks incoherently about “a bad man”, she shoots herself in the mouth.

The group goes to contact the police, when a woman named Luda Mae tells them to meet Sheriff Hoyt at the mill. Instead, they find a young boy named Jedidiah, who tells them Hoyt is at home. Erin and Kemper go through the woods to find his house, leaving Morgan, Andy, and Pepper at the mill with Jedidiah. They come across a plantation house and Erin is allowed inside by an amputee named Monty to call for help. Kemper goes inside to look for Erin and is killed with a sledgehammer by Thomas Hewitt, also known as “Leatherface”, who drags his body into the basement and finds an engagement ring meant for Erin.Meanwhile, Hoyt arrives and disposes of the hitchhiker’s body. After Erin finds that Kemper is missing, she and Andy go back to Monty’s house, and Erin distracts him while Andy searches for Kemper. Monty realizes Andy is inside and summons Leatherface, who attacks him with his chainsaw. Erin escapes and heads towards the woods, but Leatherface cuts Andy’s leg off and carries him to the basement, where he is impaled on a meat hook. Erin makes it back to the mill, but before she and the others can leave, Hoyt shows up. After finding marijuana on the dashboard, he orders Erin and Pepper to get out of the van, gives Morgan the gun he took from the hitchhiker, and tells him to reenact how she killed herself. Morgan, disturbed by his demands, attempts to shoot him, only to find that the gun is unloaded. Hoyt handcuffs Morgan and drives him to the Hewitt house, taking the van’s key with him.Erin and Pepper are attacked by Leatherface, who is wearing Kemper’s face as a mask. When Pepper attempts to run, she is killed by Leatherface. Erin runs and hides in a nearby trailer belonging to an obese middle-aged woman known only as the Tea Lady, and a younger woman named Henrietta, who give her tea. Erin discovers they have kidnapped the hitchhiker’s baby, but passes out before she can escape, as the tea is drugged. Erin wakes up at the Hewitt house surrounded by the family: Leatherface, his mother Luda Mae, Hoyt, Monty and Jedidiah. Luda Mae informs Erin that Leatherface was tormented for his whole life because of a skin disease that left his face disfigured, and that she felt no one cared for her family besides themselves.Erin is taken to the basement, where she finds Andy and kills him to end his suffering after failing to get him off the hook. Afterwards, she finds Morgan handcuffed in a bathtub. Jedidiah, who does not agree with his family’s actions, leads them out of the house and distracts Leatherface long enough for them to escape. Erin and Morgan find an abandoned shack in the woods and barricade themselves inside. Leatherface breaks in and discovers Erin, but Morgan attacks Leatherface, who kills him with his chainsaw. Erin escapes into the woods, pursued by Leatherface. She finds a slaughterhouse and attacks Leatherface with a meat cleaver, chopping off his right arm.Erin runs outside and flags down a trucker, who she tries to convince to drive away from the Hewitt house, but he stops to find help at the eatery. As the family is distracted by the trucker, Erin sneaks the baby out of the eatery and places her in the sheriff’s car. Erin hot-wires the car and Hoyt tries to stop her, but she runs him over repeatedly until he is dead. Then, Leatherface suddenly appears in the road and slashes the car with his chainsaw, but Erin manages to escape with the baby, and he watches in anger as she drives away.The atmospheric and chilling sound effects are especially well done, on a par with any other horror movie. The iconic, hulking serial killer Leatherface is a man mountain of maniacal mayhem, and who’s physiognomy is the stuff of nightmares – he’s comfortably one of the all-time horror genre greats. Jessica Biel is absolutely fantastic in the lead role as a headstrong and ballsy woman, who’s early shock and terror at her hellish predicament is quickly subsumed by her sheer determination to survive against all the odds.

REVIEW: THE VIRGIN SUICIDES

CAST
Kirsten Dunst (All Good Things)
Josh Hartnett (Lucky Number Sleven)
James Woods (Another Day In Paradise)
Kathleen Turner (Serial Mom)
Michael Pare (Bloodrayne)
Scott Glenn (Daredevil lTV)
Danny DeVito (Batman Returns)
A.J. Cook (Wishmaster 3)
Hayden Christensen (Awake)
Sherry Miller (Bitten)
Melody Johnson (Goosebumps)
Andrew Gillies (Mutant X)
Giovanni Ribisi (Ted)
Joe Dinicol (Arrow)
Jonathan Tucker (Westworld)
The story takes place in the sleepy and decaying suburbs of Grosse Pointe, Michigan during the 1970s, as a group of neighborhood boys, now grown men acknowledging in voice-over (narrated by Giovanni Ribisi who speaks for the group as a whole) reflect upon their life-long obsession and memories of the five entrancing Lisbon sisters, ages 13 to 17, and whose beauty had bewitched them as teenagers. Strictly unattainable due to their Catholic and overprotective, authoritarian parents, math teacher Ronald (James Woods) and his homemaker wife (Kathleen Turner), the girls — Therese (Leslie Hayman), Mary (A. J. Cook), Bonnie (Chelse Swain), Lux (Kirsten Dunst), and Cecilia (Hanna R. Hall) — are the enigma that fill the boys’ conversations and dreams.
 The film opens in the summer with the suicide attempt of the youngest sister, Cecilia, as she slits her wrist in a bath. After her parents allow her to throw a chaperoned basement party intended to make her feel better, Cecilia excuses herself and jumps out her second story bedroom window, instantly dying when she is impaled on an iron fence below. In the wake of her act, the Lisbon parents begin to watch over their four remaining daughters even more closely. This further isolates the family from the community and heightens the intrigue and air of mystery about the girls to the neighborhood boys in particular, who long for more insight into the girls’ unfathomable lives. At the beginning of the new school year in the fall, Lux forms a secret relationship and short lived romance with Trip Fontaine (Josh Hartnett), the school heartthrob. Trip comes over one night to the Lisbon residence to watch television and persuades Mr. Lisbon to allow him to take Lux to the upcoming Homecoming Dance by promising to provide dates for the other sisters, to go as a group. After winning Homecoming king and queen, Trip persuades Lux to ditch the group and have sex on the school’s football field. Afterwards, Lux falls asleep and Trip, becoming disenchanted by Lux, abandons her. At dawn, Lux wakes up alone and has to take a taxi home. Several years later, Trip will admit to wrongfully abandoning Lux, but ironically confesses that he has never gotten over her.
Having broken curfew, Lux and her sisters are punished by a furious Mrs. Lisbon by being taken out of school and sequestered in their house of maximum security isolation. Unable to leave the house, the sisters contact the boys across the street by using light signals and sharing songs over the phone as a means of finally sharing their unrequited feelings. During this time, Lux rebels against her repression and becomes promiscuous, having anonymous sexual encounters on the roof of the house late at night; the neighborhood boys spy and watch Lux in action from across the street. Finally, after weeks of confinement, the sisters mysteriously leave a note for the boys, presumably asking for help to escape. When the boys arrive that night ready to run away with the girls, they find Lux alone in the living room, smoking a cigarette. She invites them inside to wait for her sisters, while she goes to start the car, leading the boys to believe they will soon elope with the girls. While they wait, the boys briefly fantasize the group of them driving blissfully away on a sun-soaked country road.
Curious, the boys wander into the dark basement after hearing a noise and discover Bonnie’s dead body hanging from the ceiling rafters. Horrified, they rush upstairs only to stumble across the dead body of Mary. The boys realize that the girls had all killed themselves in an apparent suicide pact moments before: Bonnie hanged herself; Mary died by sticking her head in the gas oven shortly after; Therese died by taking an overdose of sleeping pills and Lux, being the last one to go, died by Carbon monoxide poisoning, when she left the car engine running in the sealed garage. But there is no sole explanation why.
Devastated and puzzled by the suicides of all their children, Mr. and Mrs. Lisbon quietly flee the neighborhood, never to return. Mr. Lisbon had a friend clean out the house and sell off the family belongings, especially those belonging to the girls, in a yard sale; whatever didn’t sell was put in the trash, including the family photos, which the neighborhood boys collected as mementos. When the house is emptied, it is quickly sold to a young couple from the Boston area. Seemingly unsure how to react, the adults in the community go about their lives as if nothing happened or that the Lisbons ever lived there. But the boys never forget about the girls however much they try, though everyone else eventually does. And the girls will forever haunt them and remain a source of grief and lost innocence for them, long into adulthood. As the film closes, the men acknowledge in voice-over, saying that they had loved the girls. And that they will never find the pieces to put them back together, to understand why the Lisbon sisters went to be alone in suicide for all time.
This is a great film, despite the tragic end. Nicely shot and superb acting. The best film I’ve seen Kirsten Dunst in.