Friday, April 27, 2018

Movie with Abe: Ava

Directed by Sadaf Foroughi
Released April 27, 2018

While there are many societal differences and cultural specificities that set locations around the world apart, the same type of people can largely be found, albeit slightly modified and shaped by their environments. Teenagers that rebel against their parents are commonplace almost everywhere, and what comes next and how they turn out depends largely on how those around them respond to their behavior. When teenagers are understood for who they are and how they will change over the coming years and encouraged to make the right choices rather than scorned for making the wrong ones, they may present a less aggressive and combative front.

Ava (Mahour Jabbari) lives a comfortable line in Tehran with a father (Vahid Aghapoor) who is often away for work and a mother (Bahar Noohian) whose close watch on her daughter feels stifling. When the talented budding musician makes a bet with her friends to get close with a boy, her mother becomes even more overprotective and alienating, prompting Ava to begin to cause trouble and veer from her promising academic path, all while noticing increasingly strict and unforgiving responses by the administration to rumors of an attempted abortion by a student at her school.

This film, the feature debut from female Iranian director Sadaf Foroughi, is the latest cinematic depiction of life in Iran, one that showcases real people who blend in with their culture and might as well exist anywhere else. It’s the way that the adults respond to them which reveals its setting, as the vindictive principal (Leili Rashidi) berates all her students for daring to think freely and shame their families with their adolescent behavior, even though most of them have nothing objectionable in the first place. It’s an intriguing showcase reminiscent of “Mustang,” though Ava’s circumstances are far brighter than the captive protagonists in that film.

Though Jabbari’s debut is certainly a noteworthy breakthrough, it’s the two primary adults in her life who are most compellingly portrayed. Aghapoor makes Ava’s father seem like a sympathetic, kindhearted parent just looking out for his daughter’s happiness, though when he finally takes a stand to defend his family, he’s not nearly as gentle. Noohian plays a mother who is beyond frustrated with the insolence her daughter shows up and becomes belligerent because she believes she has no other options. Rashidi is also particularly villainous in a way that doesn’t feel cartoonish but merely despicable. The film’s cinematography is pensive and its editing is purposeful, making for a slow but poignant look at teenage rebellion in a society known for strictness and conformity.


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