Ali & Ava (15)

Ali & Ava (15)

Director: Clio Barnard

Runtime: 94mins

Cast: Adeel Akhtar, Claire Rushbrook, Shaun Thomas, Ellora Torchia, Natalie Given

Synopsis: Sparks fly after ALI and AVA meet through their shared affection for Sofia, the child of Ali’s tenants whom Ava teaches. Ali finds comfort in Ava’s warmth and kindness while Ava finds Ali’s complexity and humour irresistible. As the pair begin to form a deep connection, they must find a way to keep their newfound passion from being overshadowed by the stresses and struggles of their separate lives and histories.


Enveloped in music, humour and emotion, Ali & Ava is a heartfelt contemporary love story, written and directed by BAFTA-nominated Clio Barnard [The Arbor (2010), The Selfish Giant (2013), Dark River (2017)].

Nominated for two BAFTAs including ‘Outstanding British Film’ Ali & Ava nimbly weaves together conventions of social realism and romantic drama and presents an intelligent and nuanced depiction of 21st century Britain.

Both lonely for different reasons, Ali [a wonderfully charismatic performance from Adeel Akhtar] and Ava [the ever-excellent Claire Rushbrook] meet through their shared affection for six-year-old Sofia, the child of Ali ’s Slovakian tenants, whom Ava teaches.  Ali finds comfort in Ava’s warmth and kindness and Ava finds Ali’s complexity, humour and energy irresistible.  Over a lunar month, sparks fly and a deep connection begins to grow.  However, the legacy of widow Ava’s past relationship and Ali’s emotional turmoil at the breakdown of his marriage to Runa (Ellora Torchia) begins to overshadow their newfound passion.

It is an unlikely and intimate love story set on the streets of Bradford, narrating the courtship of this good-hearted British Pakistani landlord and techno DJ, Ali, with a patient and compassionate, teaching assistant, Ava, who cares for a lot of mischievous kids and grandkids. A chance lift home because of a downpour becomes the incentive for them to develop a special and beautiful romance that inevitably faces numerous social and domestic obstacles.

Ali, as portrayed by Adeel Akhtar, is a memorable screen character. Bursting with charisma, his positive outlook on everything and his willingness to step in and help whenever help is needed is quite uplifting. His nervous energy when listening to music on the roof of his car in early morning mists delivers a charming energy. But he is hiding a secret from his family and Ava – whom his sister contemptuously refers to as a ‘Gori (white) Chav.

Ava is a survivor of abuse and now looks out for similarly damaged people in her local community, like her bi-polar neighbour.

Cinematography by Ole Bratt Birkeland showcases Bradford in an interesting way and music from Harry Escott delivers an upbeat vibrancy.

This film is a warm drama of mature love overcoming the divisions of race, middle age, the problems of parenthood and grandparenthood and class tension in a sensitive and engaging way thanks to two strong, convincing performances.

In cinemas

Images courtesy of ALTITUDE