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October 24, 2006

More on Sofia Coppola

This article by Brett McCracken is one of the most thoughtful critiques of Sofia Coppola's films I've read. McCracken shows the "morning after" theme that you can draw from Virgin Suicides, Lost in Translation, and Marie Antoinette -- something which Solomon has addressed.

What is most interesting about the young female protagonists in these films is not that they are young or female, but that they are dealing with life as if it were over by age 25. There is a thick existential anxiety in each of these films—a "chasing after the wind" sense of urgency that shouldn't be a part of anyone's life at age seventeen. Should it? ...

I don't think Coppola is saying that all, or even most, adolescent girls are this way. Rather, Coppola is showing us in these extreme examples a heavy truth about life: it goes by quickly, and to borrow a phrase from Walker Percy, sometimes the "everydayness" is just too much to bear. Thus, we live for the moments of transcendence, because life is short and 90 percent of it is some sort of letdown. As Solomon writes in Ecclesiastes, "However many years a man may live, let him enjoy them all. But let him remember the days of darkness, for they will be many. Everything to come is meaningless" (11:8). ...

Coppola is telling us nothing new, and certainly is not teaching us anything (whether history, politics, or philosophy). Rather, she is portraying a truth that we all can recognize: after every party, there is a cleanup; after every joy, a comedown. For everything wonderful in life, there is a knowledge that tempers it—the knowledge of impermanence—and it weighs heavy on the soul.

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