LUX LISBON


(The Virgin Suicides)

What’s the Matter with Her?
That’s a tricky one…
Since the movie only offers the point of view of a few clueless boys, there is not a lot of succinct evidence that can be used to favor any particular diagnosis. The best fit for Lux is probably Major Depressive Disorder, or depression. There is not anything to suggest that Lux is hallucinating or losing touch with reality, but plenty to suggest that she experiences melancholic, hopeless feelings associated with depression.

Major Depressive Disorder
Most of our information about Lux is hearsay, so instead of listing the symptoms she has, it seems more relevant to list  the causes of depression, and the risk factors that make someone more susceptible to it:

*Changes in hormones
As a fourteen year-old girl, Lux is going through  or has recently undergone puberty. This is a tumultuous time for any adolescent, when hormones are out-of-whack and syncing up in preparation for adulthood.

*Traumatic events
At the beginning of the movie, Lux’s baby sister kills herself.
In additon, Lux’s budding sexuality brings her into the unreliable arms of Trip Fontaine. It is with Trip that Lux loses her virginity, then is abandoned on the school football field (…Touchdown?).  She does not hear from Trip again (Penalty? Foul? Whatever, that’s not cool).
Lux & Trip

*Not socializing, loneliness, having few friends
Lux Takes a Smoke Break

While these risk factors are imposed by Lux’s parents, they still put her on the frontlines of depression.
When Lux arrives at the Lisbon house after the Homecoming dance well past curfew, her parents prevent all the girls from attending their regular classes. Besides the boys across the street that communicate sporadically with them, the girls have no friends and no other way to interact with their peers without the social opportunities offered by school.

Suicide Pacts and Groupthink
The Girls Left Behind
It is possible that the Lisbon girls make a suicide pact, which is an agreement that all of them will die together. There is not enough to prove this from the movie, but it is prudent to consider suicide pacts whenever groups of people kill themselves, especially within the same time frame.
Groupthink is a psychological phenomenon in which the beliefs of a few people are forced upon others, and in an effort to remain part of the group, individuals that might disagree with the beliefs keep silent.
Like most of the film, this idea is cloaked in question marks. Lux grew up in a closed-off world where boys weren’t allowed, so love and lust were repressed. Since the girls basically only socialize with each other, they may all have the same negative interpretations about male and female interactions that arise from Lux’s tryst with Trip. Not understanding why boys might hesitate to connect with them could contribute to the girls’ overall state of sadness (It’s a tough mystery even when you’re not trapped in your own house).

Nature vs. Nurture
Lux Far Away
This much-argued concept disputes between whether the environment in which someone is raised or the people doing the raising have the most effect on how someone develops into an adult.
Based on the way Lux is nurtured, she becomes enveloped in a mood disorder, so the film poses the idea that the way Lux and her sisters are raised has a detrimental effect on their outcome. Same parents, same outcome – five times over.

Why Just Lux…?
Girls at the Dance
Her relationship with Trip makes Lux a central focus of the movie, more so than any of her sisters. However, with the subtraction of Trip, the arguments made for Lux that relate to her upbringing could also be made for Cecilia, Bonnie, Mary, and Therese.
To avoid confusion, the author decided to focus on Lux alone (It’s still kind of confusing).

What Do You Think?
A Lux Grin
Share your thoughts with us!

6 thoughts on “LUX LISBON

  1. They definately seem to have congenital depression running in the family? Folie a deux or in this case, folie a cinq. Did Lux as oldest make the others sick too with her example? I always wonder if she coaxed her little sister to kill herself at the beginning and then the rest too. As kind of angel of mercy-way? That would definately change the tone of the movie to bit sinister.

  2. If you read the book, it seems to point to disordered eating tendencies as well. All of the guys who she brings onto her roof for a night of love making point out her “jutting ribs,” “insubstantiality of her thighs” and how her collar bones collected a pool of water when it rained. Furthermore, they describe how boys said her saliva tasted like digestive acids and she had small sores in the corners of her mouth and missing patches of hair on her head. These are all signs of bulimia (the sores, and digestive acid) and other forms of disordered eating (the weight loss, and hair loss). But perhaps these are just symptoms of her depression? I’m just thinking out loud. Really enjoyed this article! 🙂

    • Kaitlyn, I completely agree with you! She definitely has all of those symptoms in the book and I would also think this means she is bulimic. The reason I chose not to include those details is that I based my analysis only on the movie, and they don’t seem to explore the eating disorder in the movie. Thank you so much for the reply and for your input!

  3. This movie depresses me every time I watch it but it’s always a pleasure to do so. She was a troubled character who most desperately needed help. Suicide felt like the only answer but it was not….even with the harsh upbringing with her religious mother. Aside of all these issues, this movie has a great soundtrack 🙂 Fantastic analysis.

  4. Hello writer; I stumbled onto this site and read this post which is so cool! I don’t know anything about that book you quote – the DSM manual – but I’m wondering if you would consider some of the young people in strict religious societies (that seem to be ‘brainwashed’) like Lux? Where I live, we have a lot of young girls walking around in real old-fashioned modest clothing and white hats – their hair is always pinned up and I don’t think they watch TV; any thoughts? BTW I really enjoyed this.

    • Hi, Hope!
      I think that in Lux’s case, her family’s strict religious principles make her and her sisters feel trapped. That having been said, the Lisbons live in a fairly non-secular neighborhood, so the girls’ parents are considered strange.
      In societies more centered on religion, the Lisbons might fit in a little better, since their hovering behavior would be thought of as normal in a society suited for that kind of childrearing.
      Thank you so much for reading; I’m glad you enjoyed it!
      ~Angie Jane

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