What’s your favorite canned Mac/PC question that you get all the time from people like me? To suggest “canned” would be to suggest I’m tired of hearing them. I’m not. But the weirdest moment would have been coming out of a party for the Tribeca Film Festival. There was a very handsome middle-aged black man: “Hey, you’re the guy from the commercials. You’re great!” And I said, “Oh, thanks.” And I went over to meet my friends, but as I looked at him, I’m like, “I’m sorry, are you Chuck D from Public Enemy?” And he was like, “Yeah! You’re the guy from the commercials!” And I’m like, “Okay, but listen, Chuck D. I just want to say thank you. Your music and your style were a real inspiration to me and kind of a lesson on how to be fearless and creative.” And Chuck D said, “No, man, thank you!” “That’s entirely inappropriate, Chuck D. But since you asked, yes, I will pose for a picture with you.”
The story takes place in Grosse Pointe, Michigan in the 1970s, as four neighbourhood boys reflect on their neighbours, the five Lisbon sisters. Beautiful but strictly unattainable due to their overprotective, isolating parents, Therese, Mary, Bonnie, Lux, and Cecilia Lisbon are the enigmas that fill the boys’ dreams.
The film begins with the suicide attempt of the youngest sister, Cecilia, and the immediate aftermath. During a chaperoned party that summer - intended to make Cecilia feel better - Cecilia excuses herself mid-party and finally succeeds in taking her life by jumping out of her bedroom window and impaling herself on an iron fence. In the wake of her act, the Lisbon family isolate themselves even more within their community, heightening the sense of mystery about them.
The new school year starts that fall and Lux, the most promiscuous of the Lisbon sisters, forms a secret relationship with Trip Fontaine, the school heartthrob. Trip eventually persuades Mr. Lisbon to allow him to take Lux to the Homecoming dance (by promising to find dates for the other sisters and go as a group). After being crowned Homecoming King and Queen, Lux and Trip have sex on the football field that night. Trip abandons her immediately afterwards.
Having broken curfew, Lux and her sisters are punished by a furious Mrs. Lisbon by being taken out of school and sequestered within their house indefinitely. Unable to leave their home, the Lisbon sisters contact the boys using light signals, and share songs over the phone as a means of communicating their emotions back and forth.
During this time, Lux begins to have anonymous sexual encounters on the roof of the house late at night, while the boys watch from across the street. Finally, after months of confinement, the Lisbon girls signal for the boys to come over one night - presumably to help them escape from the house. When the boys arrive, they find Lux smoking a cigarette alone in the living room. She invites them inside to wait for her sisters, while she herself goes to wait in the car.
The boys wander into the basement and discover a body hanging from the ceiling; terrified, they rush back out of the house. In the process, they stumble across the bodies of the remaining Lisbon sisters, who had all killed themselves in an apparent suicide pact moments before: Therese took sleeping pills, Bonnie hung herself in the basement, Mary stuck her head in the gas oven, and Lux died of carbon monoxide poisoning by leaving the car engine running in the garage.
Devastated by the suicides of all their children, Mr. and Mrs. Lisbon quietly flee the neighbourhood, never to return. The Lisbon house is sold soon after, along with all their personal belongings, while their neighbours - unsure of how to act - go about their lives as if nothing important really happened. The boys, however, find themselves unable to forget about the Lisbon sisters. They spend the rest of their lives reviewing the Lisbon girls’ deaths, and the sequence of events over and over … only to realize that the mystery of the girls is never to be solved, and the Lisbons will haunt them forever.
“Do I like jerks? Do I like diabetes? Do I like being bludgeoned? Do I like eating waste? Of course, I do not. I have no time for jerks, any more than I have time for shitting my pants.”
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