The Movie Waffler First Look Review - THE AUGUST VIRGIN | The Movie Waffler

First Look Review - THE AUGUST VIRGIN

the august virgin review
In an emptied summer Madrid, a thirtysomething woman has a series of encounters with friends and strangers.

Review by Musanna Ahmed

Directed by: Jonás Trueba

Starring: Itsaso Arana, Vito Sanz, Isabelle Stoffel, María Herrador, Joe Manjón

the august virgin poster

We have labels for genres and subgenres of all kinds, from horror to coming-of-age to landscape film. What’s the term for those films where the protagonist finds themselves at a plateau in their life and seeks to reconnect with all the people of their past to really discover themselves? Think the classic Burt Lancaster drama The Swimmer or Joachim Trier’s best film Oslo, August 31.

the august virgin review

That's the sort of film we have here. Jonás Trueba’s The August Virgin follows 33-year-old Eva (Itsaso Arana), who we can perceive to be a vagabond, as she spends the month of August in the city of Madrid. During this particular period, Madrid’s urban area is emptied, as citizens flock to the beaches or the more summery destinations within Spain. Her stay also coincides with the festivals of St. Cajetan and La Paloma, allowing her to soak up the culture while she embarks on establishing her new way of living, whatever that may ultimately look like. We know from the title and the setting that it’ll be at least spiritually affecting.

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Her odyssey is largely driven by words: from hanging out with a random guy she meets at a museum, to reconnecting with her old friend Olka (Isabelle Stoffel), to befriending strangers at parties, Eva’s approach is heavy on connections and reconnections. Through eye contact, through dance, through deep conversations ranging from summer solstice to egg freezing to reiki to simply old memories reconstructed. Co-written by the lead actress and her director, the screenplay is in love with offering tons of ideas and observations about life, presenting them carefully and consistently throughout the film. Dialogue is undoubtedly a gift of theirs.

the august virgin review

However, while the individual conversations are very interesting, the whole isn’t greater than the sum of its parts. Eva’s arc is maybe too subtle, that anyone outside of the cultural reference zone may not be able to ascertain. Eva reminds me of some of the nomads I’ve met in my life, and my takeaway at the end of the film is one I’m still mulling over. That’s if I can even realise one because the film just doesn’t have much dramatic heft.

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In between meeting people, we see Eva embrace boredom in her house, as if she had just read Cal Newport's 'Deep Work' and is putting theory into practise. She sits in various stances and stares in silence across the wall, while the camera holds firmly still at a medium distance, avoiding obstruction of her active inactivity.

the august virgin review

Oddly enough, these moments of stillness express a lot more about her character than whenever she does the talking. Our connection to Eva all depends on how we respond to her internal battle of contentment and discomfort. As I wrote at the beginning, this is a certain type of film. If it sounds like one you’d enjoy, I can’t recommend it enough.

The August Virgin is in US virtual cinemas from August 21st. A UK/ROI release has yet to be announced.

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