SXSW 2014 Review: ‘The Special Need’ is a Sweet and Beautiful Portrait of a 29-Year-Old Virgin

By  · Published on March 11th, 2014

If only we had doc options for all the common Hollywood comedy situations. The Special Need fills this hole for the virginity-loss premise, which has been tackled by teen movies for decades and, taking it to the extreme, with sexless 40-year-olds, as well. Here we meet a 29-year-old virgin named Enea and follow him on an intercontinental mission to have him deflowered. His reason for being a late bloomer stems from his autism and, as we see when he’s hitting on women in the street, his overcompensating courage matched with underwhelming game. He also doesn’t have a sense of what league he’s in, nor does he have a basis for what to look for other than fashion magazine-quality beauties.

Fortunately, Enea has a friend in filmmaker Carlo Zoratti, who decided to document the adventure of the disabled man’s quest for sex. Starting out in Italy, where they can’t find a prostitute willing, let alone a prospective partner who doesn’t charge for it, Carlo, Enea and their other friend, Alex, drive north through Europe in the attempt to find a way to get the job done legally, safely and respectfully. Zoratti doesn’t film the plan and journey in the way you’d expect. There’s no introductory narration telling us of the objective, no breaking of the fourth wall to acknowledge that a film is even being made. Instead he let’s the story unfold seemingly naturally, albeit with clear indication that this is more docudrama than documentary, and scenes, if not the entire picture, are for the most part orchestrated.