The Armenian-Iranian drama Yeva depicts the story about one woman’s plight to escape, with her young daughter, from an existence seemingly beyond her control due to war and social construct. Yeva (Narine Grigoryan) and her daughter Nareh flee their home of Yerevan in the middle of a night during a torrential rainstorm, in the back of an old-war Soviet truck. Their journey to a remote, one-phone village in Karabakh, Azerbaijan where the plagues of war still play out in a community steeped in old-world Christian religious values knowingly becomes their place of refuge. Amidst the traveling salesmen who bring essentials once a week such as books and clothes to Yerevan, a historic church renovation, and a traditional wedding, Yerevan has a hauntingly modern sensibility, which is also dismal. Yeva’s arrival is not only known, but she also has a past connection. As it is a village, filmmaker Anahit Abad, sets up all the constructs of small-town living, albeit war-torn, it does not take long before Yeva’s purpose and existence is discovered.
“As Yeva’s story unfolds about her need to escape, a tale is spun with accusations of murder and deceit.”
Yeva, who finds comfort with her aunt and uncle in Yerevan, has a past where she’s known as “Crazy Yeva” for her wartime medical abilities in the face of blood-thirsty fighting. Those who know her, welcome her, but are slightly dubious. As Yeva’s story unfolds about her need to escape, a tale is spun with accusations of murder and deceit. As she anxiously awaits her new “false” documents to arrive so she can eventually find her way to France, Yeva finds her skills needed as a science teacher and a medic, both of which expose her to suspicion and eventually lead to her warrant for arrest. The supposed grandparents of Nareh, who they seek to have, accuse Yeva of murdering their son, Yeva’s said father, who died falling down a staircase intoxicated. However, the mystery of Yeva is still yet to be known, which is a story of war and unrequited love, which drives her to start a new life, but before the old one is finished.
Although this post-war film story from a foreign region unknown to many, does seem a little dusty and familiar, the location and attention to detail that Abad uses is a decent metaphor to the reality that Armenia has endured and the shrapnel of turmoil that still exists since its break from the Soviet Union only 26 years ago. Aside from its authentic locations and design, Yeva has much inferred. There’s a desire to experience more action and, perhaps, a deeper visual understanding of surviving in this post-war drama. Yeva was selected as the Armenian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 90th Academy Awards held in 2018 but it was not nominated.
"…does not take long before Yeva’s purpose and existence is discovered."