Pia Hellenthal has captured the fluidity of modern queer youth in Searching Eva. Both documentarist and Eva herself did not want to offer a window for the audience to peer through. Rather, they hoped to provide a mirror – a reflective surface for the viewer to see themself staring back, and to focus on what that could possibly mean.
In an age when youth are obsessed with selfies and Instagram, it’s hard to discern fact from fiction. Eva has curated what she wants others to see about her. It’s not always pretty, and the hate comments are expected. Everyone has their own opinion, and when one opens themselves up to public scrutiny, it can be a mixed bag of You’re so pretty, I wish I were you! and You disgust me. Put on some weight, get a job and stop sleeping around.
Yes, Eva is skinny. Yes she “sleeps around”. But there is an integrity to her even amidst her somewhat slipshod lifestyle. She is a sex worker, body-hair positive, bisexual artist, recovering drug addict and social media personality. Hailing from Italy and living in Berlin, Eva shares with the camera her impressions and experiences. There is not only a cultural learning curve but also a social one.
Though Eva seems to fit well in Berlin, it’s the contrast with her visits to Italy that show her more human side. What is most interesting are the scenes between Eva and her mother (they come across more like sisters, with their tattoos and butchered haircuts). Eva’s interactions in Italy are what appear to give normalcy to this wild horse. As integrated as she is within artistic avant-garde Berlin, there is something so traditionally Italian about her when she is surrounded by family.
And what better soundtrack to this “mirror” could there be but the odd yet somehow fitting inclusion of Ennio Morricone’s theme for Dario Argento’s The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, as Searching Eva’s end credits song. As the piece starts up, it is instantly recognizable to soundtrack-loving Cinetalk staff. It is at once ironic and perfectly suited. A horror flick score reappropriated to put the cherry on top of the sundae called Eva. Some might call her a horror story, but she is a very raw example of what today’s young adults are like. A touch of innocence is still there. That is well represented by the airy “la la la”s in Morricone’s piece. Eva has been through a lot, but somewhere in there is still the naivete of a young girl. There is something both appalling and attractive about her.
She is artifice and reality combined.
November 20th, 2019. 8:30 PM Cinemateque Quebecoise
November 24th, 2019. 6:15 PM Cinéma du Parc