Beautiful and unique, Any Virgin Left Alive? is a hidden gem from 2015 that deserves a place among the works of Jeunet and Gilliam. Divine and decadent aesthetics meet the story with intelligence and humor, and create a sumptuous world that begs to be further explored.
A legend tells an untold story of Joan of Arc. Rather than being burned at the stake, as we have always been told, her eyes were seared with burning pokers and she was deflowered by a local man – ruining her perfect virginal reputation. Like a vulture, she was cast out to the countryside to seek anything reminiscent of real life – and in particular, any virgins left alive.
Surreal, absurdist fantasy collides with history in a work of fantastic historical fiction – creating a fairy tale out of someone very real, surrounded by very real issues. The irreverent and divinely decadent visuals perfectly offset Joan’s blindness. Joan the Slut (Elina Löwensohn), as she’s referred to for the duration of the film, is somewhere between warrior and witch – hunting down virginal maidens and ogling them before killing them. And when I say ogling, I mean Tex Avery cartoon, eyes out of eye sockets ogling. Part of the charm of Any Virgin Left Alive? is the Gilliam-esque absurdism. Joan’s chainmail is a harsh clash against the living trees, the soft bodies of the found virgins, and the bright forest colors. There’s an irrefutable aesthetic here that makes this simple short memorable beyond words.
The foreign language film is bolstered by a charming English language narration which provides even more of a fairy tale quality – a combination of the old man from James and the Giant Peach and the Grandfather from The Princess Bride sweetly shares a lovely, 8 minute bedtime story of love, lust, and death with you. Simply wondrous.
8 out of 10