Canada’s Top Ten Film Festival 2018 Review: “Ava” (2017) ★★★★

One could argue whether it is right or wrong to criticize a foreign society. Everyone has the right to have an opinion – to agree or disagree with the strict rules promoted in certain countries. There is always a choice. Someone might choose to follow the traditions, another person would want to abandon them.  Ava Vali does not have this choice. For a very simple reason – she is born and lived in Iran. Still, that does not stop the teenage girl from questioning and challenging the rules, even if in the worst case scenario, that rebellion could threaten her life. How much does a young individual know about survival in a harsh environment? She believes in the principles of being free, and even the fear of being punished does not prevent her from dreaming about what she always wanted – her rights.

The film follows its title character Ava (Mahour Jabbari), whose life is dictated by the rules of Iran. Her family does not do much to ease the strictness of the society. In fact, her overprotective mother does the unthinkable. When she finds out that Ava has been on a date with a boy without her permission, she takes her daughter to the gynecologist. The test does not confirm Mrs. Vali’s greatest fear, yet the tension between the mother and the daughter continues to rise. Ava learns that her mother has had a rebellious nature and has been a rule-breaker when young.

Ava studies music. She is playing the violin. As it appears, years ago, it was her mother who insisted that Ava should learn to play. But she starts to regret that now. Ava’s father is a much tender and less demanding person. He is more understanding and tried to give his daughter some freedom that has been restricted by his wife. In her young age, Ava has a righteous nature. You will soon find it works in a very strange way. She fits neither in the society nor her strict school. She tried to challenge everything that the other girls in the school are even afraid to talk about. In addition, there is her interest in Nima – her friend’s brother who is also her partner at the music lessons. That’s what eventually leads her to the gynecologist ‘s clinic. Yet, it’s not that humiliating experience, but the truth about her parents’ past that changes everything in Ava’s life.

Written and directed by Sadaf Foroughi, “Ava” offers a vivid, disturbing and at the same time a brave look into how the power can force the family’s bond to be broken. The ideal life becomes nightmarish. The harsh rules at home, in the school or on the governmental level can ruin lives of people in a matter of seconds. Most of the scenes have long dialogues, which brings the viewer closer to the world of disobedience, helps to understand the foundations of this society and the way individuals practice it.  At one glimpse, it seems that nothing can stop Ava from enjoying her life; not even the forbidden subjects.

In conclusion, indeed, life has an interesting taste – provides certain expectations and fulfills dreams. The younger generation is well aware of that, therefore, will always try to explore every opportunity, no matter in which side of the world they live. “Ava” shows the past, the present and the future that will always find their ways to cross. Perhaps, trust toward each other is what the Vali family is lacking. That is why they fail to build the bridge between themselves. That is also the reason why the events of the past come back to disturb them again. They seem to forget one important thing – by judging or mistrusting they hurt only one person – their own daughter who is brave and rebellious enough to bite them back.


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