Hot Docs 2019 Review: Searching Eva
What you'll find is both intriguing and visually stunning.
Searching Eva is a documentary about a young sex worker, wanderer, and model. She is both the director and the subject- which explains her attitude of baring all, while dressing it up a bit. At points it’s well-crafted and intimate, and other times it’s too posed to sink our teeth into.
The documentary has three main elements to it. One is the unscripted scenes of Eva and whoever she is with at the time- lovers, family, strangers, or friends. The one that are peculiar but played off as mundane are the most interesting, such as one where her mother takes risque photos of her. The second element is shots of Eva posing in static, model-esque shots while narrating intimate anecdotes: voice overs about the time her father hit her, or how she had sex with older men at a young age, etc. Sometimes these hit hard: the down-the-lens stare and the deadpan delivery can create a powerful unease, with stunning visuals. Other times, it is too staged and the emotionless voice diminishing the vulnerability. The third element to the film is anonymous messages she receives appearing on screen. The standout is one that claims her life is like a “cool and interesting” indie movie which provides some playful self-awareness.
These anonymous messages are vital: we see her ‘authentic’ (if not aggressively aesthetic life) and she knows every opinion we might have. Any opinions we form almost feel foolish; she’s bared her soul, what do our thoughts matter?