“APRICOT GROVES”— Aram’s Journey

“Apricot Groves”

Aram’s Journey

Amos Lassen

Aram (Narbe Vartan) is an Iranian Armenian who immigrated to the United States as a child returns to Armenia for the first time to propose to an Armenian girlfriend Aram met and lived with in America. Aram sees many cultural, religious, and national differences on the one day trip, but harder obstacles are ahead.

This is the first feature film by Iranian/Armenian writer/director Pouria Heidary Ouren who setshis story in his two home countries. The story is exceptionally beautiful and told with such a discreet compassion and understanding that when the main crux of the story is finally revealed, one is deeply moved by the journey that has taken.

Aram has flown into Armenia from Los Angeles where he has been living since his father died. Arman (Hovhannes Azoyan), his older brother meets him at the airport. Aram is going to stay in Armenia for just one day and the first thing that he wants to do is to formally propose to an Armenian girl he had met when she was visiting the US. In accordance with local customs the prospective groom must be accompanied by his own family members who bring gifts when he goes to his potential father-in-law to ask for her hand.

These preparations take up most of the morning as they visit the tailors to get dressed in their new suits, pick up roses at the florist and then a basket of cognac, and a tray of cookies before they can pay the arranged call.   Although the father is cold and unwelcoming at first, he warms up enough to grant his permission.

The second part of the day is a long hard drive to the Iranian border and we are not sure why but discover that later. Because this is the main point of the film, I cannot tell you the reason now but when you see the film this will be cleared up. It should be enough to say that the film “reflects the endurance and complications of consummation amidst a plethora of conservative religious expectations”. “Apricot Groves” explore identity and shows how we are influenced by the societies in which we live. Beautifully photographed, the viewer gets a chance to see a culture that most of us are not familiar with.

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