Clio Barnard’s latest film, presented in the prestigious Directors’ Fortnight section at Cannes, tells a story of two very different characters. The titular Ali and Ava come from different neighborhoods and social classes and have different ethnic and cultural backgrounds. Ava has adult children; she helps to take care of her young grandchildren while working as a teaching assistant at a local school. Ali is a street-smart landlord who deejays in nightclubs from time to time and comes from a somewhat conservative Pakistani family; his marriage has been perfunctory for many years. One day Ali and Ava’s paths cross quite unexpectedly, and their meeting leads to a relationship filled with hope, that blossoms beyond their differences. Their story is portrayed with no unnecessary sentimentality, and scored with a soundtrack of hit songs, including Bob Dylan. Barnard takes advantage of the industrial environment of the area where the film takes place at and puts a modern twist on the esthetics of British social realism. Claire Rushbrook and Adeel Akhtar have great chemistry and play the leads with empathy and sensitivity, as two people who suddenly find solace in a new romantic connection.
Ole Bratt Birkeland
Adele Akhtar, Claire Rushbrook, Ellora Torchia, Shaun Thomas, Natalie Gavin