Virgin is the brainchild of first time director Deborah Kampmeier who also wrote the script. Robin Wright Penn is the executive producer and also plays Jessie's mother. Shot on a shoe-string budget, the film has many flaws commonly associated with small independent productions. It's too often uneven and would have benefitted from having certain scenes re-written or edited out completely. What kept me somewhat interested was the unusual story and a strong performance by Elisabeth Moss. That alone gives this film some worth. Too odd, edgy and uneven for most movie goers, but if you like indie films and can't find anything else you might give this a shot.
In a Bible belt community, an eccentric young girl gets raped when she passes out at a party, unaware of what has happened. When she goes home that evening, she dreams that God informs her that she's pregnant with a new Christ (PBUH) child, and that is what she believes, much to the chagrin of her family and the town she lives in. Everybody demands that the troubled girl repent, resorting to everything from graphitti to physical violence to give up her belief, but it inspires her to help the helpless, heal the wounded, and essentially do everything we expect God would want us to do. She ultimately discovers the truth about her baby, but not before suffering for what she believes in. It's a heartbreaking film.
I didn't like it at first, because I saw it as an example of the dangers of avant-garde filmmaking. My girlfriend rented this movie because of its premise, and when she was presented with a weird girl and documentary styled camerawork, we were both turned off. Had this movie been made as a mainstream film - clean and to the point, with its compelling premise, it would have been great. Hollywood could probably have done wonders with this script.
But they didn't, and what we do have is a movie that's nonetheless great. I imagine the filmmaking style was intended to create realism, and make us feel sympathy for its lead, which it does. The movie is remarkably well-acted, and all of the characters are convincing. The story also is well told and well arranged. So much so that in spite of the fact that the style of filmmaking is somewhat off-putting, we truly do feel for this girl and are angry at the kind of intolerance that defeats the purpose of religion in the first place. [u]Virgin[/u] illustrates that fallacy, IMO, of all religious fundamentalism: thematically, every major religion wants us to be better people and be better to each other. The rituals of religion, IMO, are only intended to create discipline and unity among the followers. They are not religion's primary purpose, as I see it. Religion's true intent is to bring people together by bringing out the best in us, which happens to this poor girl despite how that epiphany came to her. She's a true victim of society's misunderstanding of religion, IMO, and her story is heartbreaking on that level.
As heartbreaking, and more disturbing, to me, is the film's second theme of adolescent sexual confusion and frustration. The most horrifying news story, to me, of my lifetime, was the massacre at Columbine High School. Among the many things that disturbed me about it was the fact that the killers went after girls that they were [i]attracted[/i] to. I have long felt that sexual frustration leads to all kinds of problems, and in a teenager, does indeed have the potential to lead to violence. I'm not saying that teens should have more sex, I'm saying that I wish parents gave teenagers more guidance in dealing with their sexual impulses as teens rather than just ignoring them because it's so unpleasant to talk about. My father's denial of my sexuality made me a porn addict. The Columbine killers became murderers. The boys in this film become rapists. I realize it's their fault, but IMO, we as a society need to really make sure our teens understand sex and how to deal with their sexual desire. If not, I feel it will continue to be expressed in unhealthy, and potentially dangerous, ways.
A great film.