Ava (Noée Abita) is the titular character of the film, whose life takes a dramatic turn when she finds out (at the mere 13 years of age) she will go blind within a short amount of time. From here she begins to act out against her mother and finds ways to escape her eventual fate before everything goes dark forever.
At first Ava begins accepting what may happen by blindfolding herself and ‘tuning’ in all of her other senses. This includes walking on a rooftop and stealing a young criminal’s dog to use as a guide to move around. Not long after, Ava and the criminal Juan (Juan Cano), meet by chance on a deserted part of the beach, where he resides in an abandoned building. From here they form a somewhat reckless bond and taboo relationship where Ava gets to act out all of her frustrations and fears, but soon after they are on the run from the authorities and her life turns upside down even more so.
The film itself feels like a cut and paste job and it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what it wants to be. The performance by Noée Abita as Ava is a fine and brave one, but is underdone by a clunky screenplay and an ending that seems to leave many things unresolved. Whether the filmmakers intended for it to be that way or not is slightly misinterpreted. All the other central performers including Juan and Ava’s mother Maud (Laure Calamy), are strong enough to hold the film’s narrative misgivings together, but only just.
Perhaps if the film stayed on track with Ava’s diminishing condition, it may have had a stronger dramatic pull. The tonal shift the film takes in places is also somewhat confusing; one example being from when Ava goes on an awkward first date, to a series of highly disturbing images from her nightmares – a jump which doesn’t seem to fit the narrative structure, thus leaving the viewer with mixed emotions about what is going to happen next.
If you’re looking for something a little open to interpretation, Ava may just be what you’re looking for. If anything, it will form many a discussion on what you may think the film is trying to achieve, and any piece of cinema that can do that may just be worth your time.
Ava is screening as part of the 2018 Alliance Française French Film Festival in Australia, go here for tickets and to view the full lineup of films.
Deserted Island Movie Collection: The Films of Martin Scorsese
Best Movie Snack: Honey Soy Chicken Potato Chips and a 6 pack.