Sworn Virgin | Chicago Reader

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84 minutes · 2015

Drama
This quiet 2015 drama, concerning a bizarre custom in remote Albania, lacks the tension its subject matter demands, though a few subtle exchanges resonate. According to the Kanun tradition, a woman unwilling to submit to men in the community must become a burrnesh, rejecting her femininity and living as a celibate man. The film follows one such transitioned man (Alba Rohrwacher) as he resolves to leave his mountain village and return to life as a woman with his cousin in Italy (Flonja Kodheli). Writer-director Laura Bispuri, making her feature debut, captures the region's visual splendor, but her protagonist's inner life is muted. Though the delicate Rohrwacher hardly passes for a man, only the cousin's teenage daughter (Emily Ferratello) states the obvious; the danger faced by many gender-nonconforming people is unrealistically absent. In Albanian and Italian with subtitles.

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