docWhen you watch a British documentary you expect cynicism, especially when it’s about a controversial American sub-culture, all the more so if there’s a religious link.  The recent Cutting Edge documentary ‘The Virgin Daughters’, about the American purity movement, actually manages to overcome its instincts and seem sympathetic.

The program is structured around families who attend an elaborate annual purity ball in Colorado Springs, where fathers pledge to be loving and honourable, and their daughters pledge their chastity until marriage.

 From the father’s perspective, if their daughter feel loved they won’t need to go looking for male affirmation outside the home.  The daughters just seem happy to be loved, all be it in a somewhat overbearing way.

These are well-meaning people trying to clear a pathway for their children through a morally turbulent world.  There is no damning by editor, there’s hardly even any sinister music, the whole experience was quite refreshing.

As bonkers as the idea of kissing your husband for the first time on your wedding day may seem to some, and as tightly controlled as these children are, I couldn’t help but be won-over by the big-hearted sincerity of these terribly earnest Americans.

The interviewees were given just enough rope to hang themselves, and to the frustration of Times critic Tim Teeman, none of them did:

“It was not as savage as it could have been, nor as insightful. It didn’t investigate, it observed almost without any perspective – as if the camera had no one holding it. A depressingly wasted hour.”

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