It is typical for the locals to leave Madrid during the summer as it gets incredibly hot. Traveling with family and friends, new places are explored, and memories forged. However, some locals stay to attend a series of festivals in the opening weeks of August. The August Virgin of the title is thirty-something Eva (Itsaso Arana), who has never stayed behind but decides that this year is as good as ever to experiment with Madrid while most everyone else is gone. As the heat and the unfamiliar August landscape bear down on Eva, she will learn more about herself and the people around her than she ever expected.
The August Virgin‘s story is simple, following Eva’s day-to-day journey through the empty city. She eats, swims, dances, drinks, and hangs out with friends, meaning that nearly everything she does in the film is likely something that Arana has done in real life. There is little drama and very few intense conversations. Arana, and the rest of the cast, are asked to portray the simplest of emotions, which can be just as tricky as more intense and heavy moments. Arana, specifically, finds her groove early on and conveys the necessary feelings with ease, making her performance most enjoyable.
While Eva’s experiences throughout The August Virgin are simple, I struggle to appreciate the situations she finds herself in, as they are, for the most part, unfamiliar to me. The culture in Madrid is significantly different than in the United States, creating a gap between my experiences and Eva’s. While I find myself learning about Madrid’s customs, there is still a disconnect between me and the events in the film, making it hard to truly invest in what is taking place.
“As the heat and the unfamiliar August landscape bear down on Eva, she will learn more about herself…”
Stories about self-discovery allow audiences to look inward at themselves and better understand who they are or who they want to become. The August Virgin is similar to other bildungsromans in that sense. The issue with Eva’s coming-of-age story is that, unlike most other films with the same premise, it lacks a significant self-discovery. The August Virgin lacks the significant payoff necessary to be successful.
The omission of a major revelation at the end, while disappointing, is fitting. The August Virgin moves slowly, with very little taking place from beginning to end, leaving viewers bored and a tad confused. I love a film that makes me think a bit. So, I’m alright with having the meaning of the film hidden beneath the surface, but I feel that this just doesn’t ring true with Jonás Trueba’s The August Virgin.
Even with as slowly as the film moves, there is bound to be something at the end that makes everything worthwhile. This, however, is not the case, as everything audiences suffer through is for naught. With the exception of the acting, The August Virgin struggles to impress and ultimately fails to entertain audiences.
"…struggles to impress and ultimately fails to entertain…"