aGLIFF Reviews

aGLIFF Reviews

Like a Virgin

Narrative Feature
D: Lee Hae-joon and Lee Hae-yeong; with Ryu Deok-hwan, Baek Yoon-sik, Lee Sang-ah, Kim Yoon-seok.

An unassuming comedy, Like a Virgin braves difficult themes without a didactic undertone. The film opens with a scene from the protagonist's childhood as he applies a fresh coat of lipstick across his mouth (as well as most of his cheeks) and lies stomach-down on his bedroom floor – kicking his feet back and forth and singing along with the words to Madonna's "Like a Virgin." Like so many, he idolizes the jelly-bracelet-wearing, lace-laden pop star. And while he might not be the first holdout to find it difficult to defend mesh tops with heels post-1984, come high school he finds aspects of life particularly complicated, because, unlike many Madonna fashion fans, Oh Dong-gu (Deok-hwan) was born a boy. The film follows Dung-gu's sophomore year of high school as he attempts to win a Ssireum wrestling competition whose prize money would afford him a gender-reassignment surgery.

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