Sworn Virgin

Years after declaring her eternal virginity and opting to live life as a man in the mountains of Albania, Hana looks to return to living as a woman as she settles into a new existence in modern-day Milan.


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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 momalley on Letterboxd

    It's a movie about a Balkan sworn virgin (look it up--I had to), and it's absolutely obsessed with bodies. The camera lingers over the human form in a way that even more obviously objectifying films don't, and this movie, being from the POV of someone who has existed outside the gender continuum of her country's society, presents those bodies with the curiosity and strangeness of someone from the outside looking in. The obvious pitfall here is that this curiosity could have come across as either leering or clinical, but neither is the case. It's a warmly human movie, and even if all the interpersonal relationships don't feel quite as fleshed out as they should, plenty of emotional weight alone comes from the geometry of muscles and bones.

  • ★★★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.

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