A contemporary, gradually darkening coming-of-age tale of an Iranian teenage girl in Tehran, feel so familiar that universal is the only apt way to characterize them.
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Foroughi’s movie surveys how the mounting external pressures in Ava’s life bring her to a near-breaking point, and the director has devised (with the cinematographer, Sina Kermanizadeh) an explosive visual grammar to approximate the depths of Ava’s isolation and pain.
In watching Ava, a visually inviting and sharp portrait of teenage life in Iran, one must admire how writer-director Sadaf Foroughi was able to play her own tune in life.
The film's constant cruelty is so inescapable that it starts to feel unfair not only to the protagonist, but to Iran itself.
Lurching relentlessly from one conflict to another, the movie distills its emotions — and maintains its momentum — in conversations of remarkably controlled intensity.
It’s gut-punch cinema, uneasy and unpredictable, though Foroughi keeps it clicking right along into the rare open ending that feels earned.
This is one of the most thoughtful films about the female experience to debut in recent years, and should be mandatory viewing for anyone eager to engage with confidently-made, skillful art cinema.