“Summer is the perfect time for being yourself. ” So says Eva (a wonderful Itsaso Arana) in The August Virgin. While most people living in Madrid tend to leave the city for the summer, Eva has decided to stay and have a vacation in her own hometown. Eva borrows an apartment and explores the festivals that spring up around the city and sees her home with new eyes, while also learning about herself, meeting new friends and appreciating old ones over the first weeks of August.
Director and co-writer Jonás Trueba, along with Arana, who also co-wrote this story, take Eva’s August day-by-day. Some days, she sits on the balcony and watches the parades go by, on others, she decides to follow a lady off the bus and ends up running into old acquaintances. In a way, Trueba and Arana’s screenplay at times comes off like a Richard Linklater film, like a more structured Slacker, or an episode in the Before series where the love depicted is between Eva and her city. This daily, episodic take on the summer is lackadaisical but also exciting, as if anything can happen with each new day.
Arana is magnetic as Eva and makes everything she does captivating, whether it’s reading Ralph Waldo Emerson or doing acting exercises at a bar. Her expressive eyes contain so much of what her character is thinking, especially in the film’s more dramatic moments, like when she runs into an old boyfriend going to the same movie as her. Every new adventure each day provides is a joy to watch, given her desire to discover herself and grow in new ways.
Eva is drawn to people around her age and The August Virgin unravels itself when she finds other 30-somethings as lost as she is, or as confused their place in life. Some new friends are shocked to find out they’ve been in the same place for almost a decade, and her best friend, who is a new mother, finds that she’s almost irrelevant to the world around her. Even in the smallest of actions, it’s as if Eva is trying to discover what the next step in her life should be. Does she need to leave the place that she calls home to become who she wants to be, or is this where she should remain?
The August Virgin is a lovely, fascinating film about self-discovery and how the places we come from dictate who we are.
The August Virgin screens today at 5pm. Buy tickets here!