In Salve, a sickly but devoted old woman, Aziz, tries to help her granddaughter Maryam, a skittish addict, to survive in Tehran’s tortured underground. Beaten by her father with a belt, Maryam hastens to escape her strict household. She has fallen in love with her drug dealer, Bardi, and plans to run off with him. On her frantic way out the door, she accepts a cell phone from Aziz, who makes her promise to call if she needs help.
Bardi decides Maryam is in too deep and leaves her to fend for herself in increasingly dangerous situations. She makes use of the phone—but only to borrow money to score her drug of choice, the so-called rock candy. Aziz agrees, then follows her from the shadows of their meeting place to intercept the suspicious police, reassuring them that her granddaughter is clean.
Wonderful cinematography lends an almost surreal quality to the scenes in which the two women travel the streets of the Iranian capital. In her haunting black chadra, Aziz stands in stark contrast to modern Maryam: they make an odd but very loving couple who bridge the generation gap. Salve is the eighteenth feature film written, directed and produced by Alireza Davoodnejad, who started his career as a scriptwriter in Tehran when he was only 17 years old. —Denver Film Society