Ava Screen 6 articles

Ava

2017

Ava Poster
  • Reaction will probably have a lot to do with one's tolerance for doomed romanticism, i.e., films depicting young people's dire circumstances as a valid excuse for acting like complete fuck-ups. Sometimes this is done well (Kelly Reichardt's River of Grass), sometimes it is treated with appropriate irony (Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom), but when it's played even semi-straight (as in, say, Gerardo Naranjo's I'm Gonna Explode), I start to find the self-destruction more than a bit tedious.

  • Stylistic impact notwithstanding, the film is unbalanced by aimless plotting and queasy questions about the sexualisation of a vulnerable child protagonist. Although it’s the latest in the À Bout de Souffle ‘hail of bullets’ tradition of Gallic doomed romance, Ava bucks the trend by following a central character who is resolutely impenetrable and thus somewhat difficult to care about.

  • Right up to the slightly unsatisfying ending, “Ava” is both a complex character portrait and a heartsore farewell to the ephemeral images that will be among the last she sees. But the movie is also, in a way, a tribute to shooting on film, which already feels like an act of radical nostalgia. These are the last wild flickers before darkness.

  • Compared to, say, Marielle Heller’s recent American indie The Diary of a Teenage Girl or, to go back several years, Catherine Breillat’s Fat Girl (2001), this lacks moral nuance and complexity, but Mysius’ technique is unquestionably stylish and confident, and she coaxes strong performances from inexperienced and seasoned cast alike. Shot on increasingly rare 35mm stock by DP and co-screenwriter Paul Guilhaume, the film at least has a visual luster, intense palette and tactile quality.

  • A teenage coming-of-age tale full of twists and in possession of a weird rebellious spirit much like its idiosyncratic 13-year-old loner protagonist... Mysius, shooting with cinematographer Paul Guilhaume on 35mm, makes full use of its texture and saturated colours. Indeed, blackness is a frequent motif, including the black dog that Ava steals to be her companion.

  • The plot runs away with itself a little at the end, but this is not unusual in a debut feature and there is so much to love in Mysius’ film. From the thumping drums and eerie atonality of the interstitial soundtrack to the blasts of Europop and soul, it sounds as good as it looks, and it looks very good indeed on 35mm film. The very last shot is the first shot where we see Ava break into a full smile as she drives off into her future, and it’s a smile you will feel like sharing.

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