Given the round-the-clock news misery of the last month/last two years, I’m really pleased to be able to recommend an involving, big-hearted film that many people will warm to.
On limited release, Ali and Ava follows happy-go-lucky Ali, played by the always watchable Adeel Akhtar (I guess he had to be an actor with that surname), as he forms an unlikely relationship with the older Ava (played by Claire Rushrook).
Ali is a 40-ish, puppyish, washed-up raver and former DJ who collects rents for his family’s letting business. His marriage to the much younger, very attractive Runa, a student, has broken down, although he has shied away from telling his close-knit British-Pakistani family about their estrangement, and they continue to miserably share a property when the film opens.
Ava is a middle-aged single mum and youngish granny, who works as a teaching assistant in a local primary school and feels that her best years are behind her. She’s swept up by Ali’s effortless ebullience and gentle enthusiasm, but the frictions and insecurities that come hand in hand with their family ties threaten to cause insurmountable obstacles.
This isn’t a miserable film though at all. There are emotional ups and downs, but ultimately it is a warm, optimistic and sometimes very funny watch, that comes with the added bonus of an excellent 1990s rave-influenced soundtrack. Set in northern England, in Bradford, there are also some beautifully shot cityscapes of an urban landscape that is not usually exactly renowned for its gorgeousness.
The movie is directed and written by Clio Barnard, and it reminded me of a Ken Loach film that’s had all that relentless misery squeezed out of it. Maybe you can tell that I really loved it. Perhaps take a tissue to wipe away a little sentimental tear, if you’re that way inclined.