Ava ★★★★

The opening shot of Ava is filmed from the back of a car, looking onto the front passenger seat, while a young woman and her mother argue. The camera remains here while the argument finishes, the young woman (the titular character, Ava) leaves, and the car turns the corner to go home. I can think of a handful of Iranian films in the last 20 years that have featured this shot. It captures my attention, still. Much like this directorial choice, many other choices made by Sadaf Foroughi seem ripped from the shot sequences of directors like Kiarostami, Farhadi, Wong Kar Wai, Chantelle Aukerman, and others. This is perhaps mostly the result of being a young filmmaker. Before you can find your style, you mostly make films that copy the styles of the filmmakers you love.

Ava as a story, is compelling. It contains beautiful friendships among young women, difficult moments between a husband and wife, mother and daughter, neighbors and friends. The water, in this film, continues to roll into a boil by the end. And in true Iranian fashion, nothing quite explodes, but you are left with a sense of heightened awareness that something is really not right.

I saw this film after seeing Milla, a French film about another modern 17 year old, dealing with a very different kind of life, in a very different kind of society. It was fascinating to see these films back-to-back. They made for great fodder to consider questions like, "what does it mean to be a kid in the kind of world we live in now?" And, "if we are truly a global society, it's a global society still marked by a lot of variance in the kinds of experiences you can have in a place like France vs a place like Iran."