by Afra Nariman
Ali & Ava (2021)
Director: Clio Barnard
Stars: Adeel Akhtar, Claire Rushbrook, Natalie Gavin, Ellora Torchia, Shaun Thomas
A whirlwind of empathy and sorrow, pain and joy, grief and healing; Ali & Ava is a refreshingly simple (or maybe the right word is natural), yet layered modern meditation on both love and friendship. Practically each scene is filled with a genuine kindness, though with a sadness between the lines for each character. Essentially a romantic comedy grounded in social realism, Ali & Ava gradually becomes about confronting the past and acknowledging its influence on the present, claiming your freedom by doing so, and finally about finding some bliss in the mess of it all.
Through brilliant direction, accompanied by fantastic performances from all the actors, the film is able to avoid many of the common tropes in both romantic-comedies and social realist films, which makes every development both unexpected and believable. It’s a rom-com without brushing over the important real-world issues that it’s characters face; and it’s a social realist film that doesn’t make the issues it discusses the film’s emphasis. The focus remains always with the people of the story and their relationships. This allows the issues to effectively inform the real subject of the film — human connections and interactions — with nuance.
Ali & Ava is something new; and it’s moving, compassionate, and honest.
MY RATING /5:
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