Kirsten Dunst’s Filmography has been severely overlooked due to the discourse surrounding her work being labeled with the deadly term, “chick flick.” In this list I will be providing examples of why the unappreciation of Kirsten Dunst’s talent is a grave misfortune, as her film roles throughout her life, especially in her early career, exemplify the importance of her talent in making these female-driven movies powerful and lively.
- “All I Wanna Do” (directed by Sarah Kernochan, 1998) – Based in the 1960’s at an all-girls boarding school, a group of rebellious teenage girls led by Verena von Stefan, played by Kirsten Dunst, develop plans to ease some of the constraints enforced by the school. When news comes out about the school being in financial trouble and the solution being converting the institution to be coed, Verena von Stefan becomes passionate about doing everything in her power to not let boys interfere with the girls’ education potential. This feminist film is not only fun to watch but also allows the audience to see the varying girls’ opinions and interpretation of letting boys into their school. Kirsten Dunst is incredible in this movie as she convinces the audience that her character is passionate about the mission, while being a complicated, well-rounded person. Her performance is endearing as she is not the “mean girl,” but instead welcomes people into her club for outcasts and encourages others to fight for social causes. I also found the character, Miss McVane (played by Lynn Redgrave), to be incredibly charming and unknowingly sweet in this movie as she showed that boarding school for girls is not about teaching women to be proper and orderly, but wanting them to have the same access to higher education as men do. Miss McVane and Verena von Stefan are alike in many ways, both having a passion for girls to be themselves without the interruption/influence of men. Miss McVane looks at this all-girls boarding school as a place where “you can discover yourself, which is greater than discovering the opposite sex.”
- “Drop Dead Gorgeous” (directed by Michael Patrick Jann, 1999) – I love this movie for its dry, dark humor – something that is often overlooked when women are at the front of this type of comedy. There is so much blatant irony incorporated into this film to highlight the ridiculousness of teenage beauty pageants and the traditional way to look at a girl’s worth. This beauty pageant becomes deadly as the need to win in some contributors of the contest becomes violent. Kirsten Dunst’s character, Amber Atkins, is a talented, charitable, kind, good girl, who everybody roots for. Dunst plays this character extremely well, showing her passion to leave her small town like all the boys have had the opportunity to do, but with the affordance of a sweet smile on her side. This film is severely underrated; I urge everyone to watch this movie if you’re in need of a fun, humorous time.
- “Virgin Suicides” (directed by Sofia Coppola, 1999) – Out of all the movies on this list, this is by far my favorite. Director Sofia Coppola is a frequent collaborator with Kirsten Dunst because Coppola realizes Dunst’s worth and appreciates her talent. This movie is sad, but somehow the sadness is not consuming. It tells the tale of five sisters raised in a religious, uptight household with an anxious, controlling mother and a complacent father. Kirsten Dunst’s character, Lux Lisbon, is the main attraction of the sisters, and arguably the film as well. She is the one with the most rebellious, daring tendencies. Despite the movie having an enormously dark mood, this movie is dream-like, and shockingly relatable for teenage girls. In many teen movies, the characters often live a romanticized life of what it’s like being a teenager. This movie does a good job portraying the teenage girl experience, and the intensity of it all. Early on in the movie, the youngest of the Lisbon sisters is asked by an invalidating male doctor why she is so mentally unstable for a girl who has barely lived life, to which she responds, “obviously doctor, you’ve never been a thirteen year old girl.” The monologues placed throughout the film are beautiful and clairvoyant. Lux Lisbon really makes this movie for me, she’s cheery and smart and her desire to rebel is charming. To me, I consider this one of Kirsten Dunst’s best performances and she was only sixteen years old at the time.
- “Bring It On” (directed by Peyton Reed, 2000) – This list couldn’t be complete without this iconic, overly dramatic, fun, sassy film. This is arguably one of Kirsten Dunst’s most recognizable performances. Her character, Torrance Shipman, is unintentionally funny with her consistent outbursts sprung from her determination to lead the cheerleading squad to victory. This movie is simply fun to watch as there are catchy cheers and dance moves incorporated but has unfortunately been written off by the negative connotations associated with being labeled a “chick flick.”
5. “Marie Antoinette” (directed by Sofia Coppola, 2006) – This is the latest film on this list but I had to include it because it was snubbed by critics disregarding the film’s excellence and beauty. Like most of Coppola’s films, the aesthetic is dream-like, making you feel entranced as you are drawn into the movie’s plot. The film gives humanity to the historical figure, Marie Antoinette, played by Kirsten Dunst. The pastries, dresses and shoes in this movie are so eye-catching and desirable that it makes the film incredibly attractive to look at. This film doesn’t have much action in it, and could be easily written off as being “slow,” but I believe this film is a solid essence of life piece, even if it’s an extremely wealthy life being portrayed, I find it to be still highly entertaining and humanizing. Dunst gives personality and humanity to her character, showing how young, innocent and naive Antoinette was when she was moved to France to become the queen in waiting.