‘Ali and Ava’: Love blooms for two adored lonely hearts

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She’s a little country and she’s a little rock-and-roll, and those musical tastes are hardly the things that separate the title characters of “Ali and Ava.” British writer-director Cleo Barnard’s romantic drama follows the temporary relationship of two people who have little to do except loneliness and their hometown: Bradford, the ethnically diverse West Yorkshire town where Barnard has set all of his films.

Of South Asian descent, Ali (Adeel Akhtar) is a former DJ with vague musical ambitions and takes a day job to manage his family’s modest rented houses. Born in Britain to Irish parents, Ava (Claire Rushbrook) is a financially tight classroom assistant who has four children and five grandchildren. The two meet when Ali brings Sofia (Ariana Bodorova), the daughter of two of his tenants, to the school where Ava works. They are bound by their shared affection for the little girl, a member of Bradford’s larger Slovakian community.

Both Ali and Ava are more or less single. Ali shares a house with his estranged wife, Runa (Ellora Torchia), but she plans to move out. Ava’s physically abusive husband is dead, although she has a home full of children and grandchildren. Her son Callum (Shawn Thomas, who appeared in Barnard’s 2013 “The Selfish Giant”) is a major obstacle to a potential romance. He is first seen dancing to Bollywood music in a TV exercise show, but reacts angrily when he finds his mother with Ali.

Ali and Ava are based on real people Barnard met while making the earlier films, and their characters were developed in collaboration with the actors. The documentary-style cinematography of the play is equally natural. Ole Brat Burkeland shot the film with the handheld camera in the available light, giving it an unmistakable feel (and lots of scenes that are literally too dark).

Plus there’s a documentary-like film soundtrack, whose everyday ambient sounds are unheard of by a single score. Yet there is plenty of music, most of which illuminates the main characters. Ali is featured dancing on top of his car to Sylvan Aso’s electro-pop “Radio”, which repeats throughout the film. Later, Ava and her daughter go to a karaoke bar to sing Ewan McCall’s “Dirty Old Town”, a folk song associated with the Pogues. The two songs differ greatly in style, but Ali and Ava’s musical tastes sometimes converge: they both rejoice when the Buzzcocks’ “Boredom” is detonated by a car radio, and Ali describes himself as Bob Dylan’s “Mama”. , You’ve Been on My Mind”. ,

For all its concern for authenticity, “Ali & Ava” Gliber shares something in common with more glamorized movie romances: It dilutes the attraction between the two paramours, and never really establishes that they’re a single. Why are you so attracted to others? The most satisfying thing about the film is knowing Ali and Ava separately. They are endowed with warmth, depth and credibility by veteran supporting actors Akhtar and Rushbrook, who are rarely cast in leading roles. Ali and Ava may not be completely convincing as lovers, but they are both exceptionally likable as individuals.

without rating. in theaters in the area; Available on August 23 on Amazon and Apple TV Plus. This includes strong language, threats of violence, and hints of sex. 94 minutes.