Film Scouts Reviews

"Mary Jane's Not a Virgin Anymore"

by Liza Bear

Fortunately, as an unpretentious, racy teen rite of passage, "Mary Jane's Not A Virgin Anymore" is well worth the wait. Gutsy, 25-year-old San Francisco director Jacobson begins where most others leave off, giving the real lowdown on sexual initiation. With its hands-on, intimate viewpoint, this movie is the perfect antidote to Larry Clark's "Kids" (1996).

An honors high school senior from the suburbs, Mary Jane (appealingly played by Lisa Gerstein from My Life's in Turnaround) works part-time at the slightly sleazy Victoria Theatre in a small mid-western town. It's the kind of theatre that shows cult films like "Nightmares of Ecstasy".

Film opens with a high-angle shot of her partner's backside as Mary Jane is being unceremoniously deflowered on a first date--in a cemetery. Thoroughly alienated by the experience, unlike the virgins in "Kids", Mary Jane, being smart, empowers herself with knowledge. Mostly set during non-school hours, in the theatre and at late night parties, the rest of the film basically chronicles her voyage of discovery--of sex as ecstasy rather than agony and how to take charge by knowing what you want.

Mary Jane learns from her motley crew of older co-workers and both genders are for the most part sympathetically drawn. There's Dave, the caring gay theater manager; Matt, the streetsmart drunken wiseguy; Tom, good-looking, sensitive slacker; Ericka. sexually savvy punk rocker who, in a particularly humorous scene, sets Mary-Jane firmly on the road to pleasure. The story develops very organically with not much in the way of plot contrivances (except towards the end when they are not really needed), and all performances have a natural improvisational feel. Dialogue as street talk is never stilted.

More a cinema verite portrait of a milieu than a drama with a fully developed story line, film works on its own terms through its raw energy and intelligent point of view.

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