Directed by Laura Bispuri
Hana Doda, still a girl, escapes from her destiny of being wife and servant which is imposed on the women in the inhospitable mountains in Albania. She appeals to the old law of the Kanun and swears her eternal virginity thus becoming a "sworn virgin". She turns into a man, takes up a rifle and becomes Mark, Mark Doda. It is in exchange for this sacrifice that Hana is allowed to be considered at the same level as other men. Her battle does not only mean that she must rebel against what destiny has been writing on her body for centuries, but she must also reject, in name of this rebellion, every form of love.
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★★★½ review by Steven Cohen on Letterboxd
Sworn Virgin presents as a transgender narrative, following Mark (Alba Rohrwacher) - assigned as female at birth - as Mark leaves hermetic life and enters modern Milan society. Mark's struggle to find a true identity is the drive of the film, and the picture ends up being more of a look at feminism in Albanian than anything else. Rohrwacher's performance is engrossing, and filmmaker Laura Bispuri brings Mark's search for a self to life in beautiful ways. Sworn Virgin's story could possibly be warped to serve those who seek to undermine transgender rights, but taken at its own merits, the film is a very effective depiction of the extremes to which one goes for freedom.
★★★½ review by Julius Kassendorf on Letterboxd
More feminist doctrine than actual film, Sworn Virgin is a great story probably better served on paper.
Lila and Hana are estranged sisters from a mountain society that views women as utilities to bake and have babies, and men are the hunters, gatherers, and heads of household.
Both Hana and Lila escape in different ways. Hana gives up her femininity and becomes a man named Mark, sworn to virginity, to achieve respect. Lila takes a husband of her choosing and escapes into the city. Neither are completely happy with their results.
Sworn Virgin tells the story among two timelines: Hana as Mark reconnecting with Lila and her family in the present day city, and the story of their growing up and Hana's decision.
On paper, it's a great feminist story about gender roles, expectations and what happens when you break tradition. But, on screen, gaps in meaning are left unstated, especially those of Lila and her unhappiness. This is Hana's movie, but it should have been both as they both broke their intended molds.
★★★½ review by Dimitris Dx on Letterboxd
Τρομερό θέμα, λιτή προσέγγιση, φανταστικές λεπτομέρειες, στις οποίες κρύβεται τελικά όλη η ουσία. Τις αγαπώ αυτές τις μικρές ιστορίες από το πουθενά, που εξισώνουν την φύση με τον εσωτερικό κόσμο των ανθρώπων. Λίγο αδύναμο στο τέλος αλλά δεν έχει και τόση σημασία <3
★★★½ review by Kenji Fujishima on Letterboxd
I passed on seeing Laura Bispuri's Sworn Virgin at Berlinale back in February, but then I heard some people singing its praises, so I decided to give this a shot at Tribeca Film Festival. I'm glad I finally caught up with it, as I explain in this House Next Door dispatch.
★★★½ review by Michael Snydel on Letterboxd
Laura Bispuri’s moving, fiery Sworn Virgin comes in a recent tradition of cinematic meditations on gender as a form of identity like Tomboy and All About My Mother, but her film is, above all, about the privilege of access. For Mark (a revelatory Alba Rohrwacher), changing his gender identity was about personal freedom, but it’s not about self-expression or empowerment as much as a reflection of Mark’s need to conform to societal expectations in order to be recognized as a human being with agency.
Read the rest of my review at The Film Stage: https://thefilmstage.com/reviews/review-sworn-virgin/
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