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Tribeca 2018 Review: “Virgins” (2018) ★★★


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In the world of fantasy, anything is possible. Yet, before we start dreaming about that beautiful world, I think we should take a step back, think for a moment and decide for ourselves whether the outcome of the fantasy-come-true will match our expectations, or whether it will be worth it. Director Keren Ben Rafael came up with the best possible story on this subject with her film “Virgins” which has nothing to do with the sexual context of the word but has a much larger meaning. The storyline is deep and profound and will manage to capture the viewer’s attention.

Set in Jerusalem, the film introduces to us Irena – a cafe owner, her teenage daughter Lana who is probably not older than sixteen, and her Tamar – Lana’s cousin who like everyone else is amazed by the fascinating story about mermaids that have been seen on the beach. Everyone is startled by the story of mermaids that have emerged from the water, including the journalist Chipi. Seems that in everyone’s hearts this story has awakened some dreams that they are now chasing after. Yet, those same dreams might turn out to be traps set for the dreamers to get into. Whether it’s good or bad, you’ll have to find out after you watch the film.

There is an interesting concept behind “Virgins”. It’s an engaging, slow-burning drama around the characters that are built broadly and give the viewer a chance to get to know them better than they do know themselves. For instance, Irena wants to keep her cafe even though it brings no money. Her debt is pretty big but that does not seem to bother her. Lana wants to escape the small town and move to Tel Aviv in a hope that the big city will fulfill her expectations. When she meets Chipi, she starts feeling that he might be the one to help her. With him, she is not alone and maybe he can take her much further than she could get on her own.

All of this happens like in a dream where a significant amount of time is dedicated to mermaids, even though we are not sure whether they really exist or not. Yet, as we see it all from the perspective of our protagonists, it is much truer than we can expect. This film is intelligent and full of symbolism. And I am sure, if you paying enough attention, you will notice all of it.

In conclusion, films like “Virgins” help us appreciate the valuable works of international cinema. The film does not beat around the bush and waste the precious screen time. It brings to us an excellent fairy tale within the real world setting. And here, everyone is like Blanche DuBois who prefers magic to reality. And even though the film has no connection to Tennessee Williams’ “A Streetcar Named Desire”, it is valuable enough to be compared with it.

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