Ali & Ava

Film Review: Ali & Ava

A touching and thought-provoking social-realist love story, Ali & Ava stars Adeel Akhtar and Claire Rushbrook as the eponymous pair who fall in love despite the restrictions of their social backgrounds and lingering pain over past relationships.

Shot on location in a frosty and bleakly alluring Bradford, Ali & Ava is reminiscent of Ken Loach’s work; and like Loach, director Clio Barnard, whose previous credits include The Arbor and Dark River, perfectly captures the sense of people and place. Equal development is spent depicting the strong sense of community prevalent in both Ali and Ava’s worlds, and the inherent cultural differences that make their relationship unusual and emotionally risky is portrayed in a sensitive and unbiased fashion. Every performance feels faultlessly authentic, but it’s the two leads that drive the picture; their performances are so brilliantly layered and empathetic that it’s impossible not to become immediately invested in the journey.

Music is a strong feature of the film, a core element of how and why the pair bond. The trading of musical tastes vastly opposed to their own is a clever metaphor for the merging of two different cultures and classes that share more similarities than might be immediately visible.

A film that showcases real class in production and performances, Ali & Ava is an enlightening, moving and ultimately uplifting drama about two wonderful people. True excellence. 5/5

Cal Reid

Exposed saw Ali & Ava as part of a press screening at The Showroom Cinema. Head to for the latest film listings and news.

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