Ava (2017)

Story of a 13 year old teenager who wants to live life fully befor loosing her eyesight due to a genetic disease ‘Retinitis Pigmentosa’.

9/8/20234 min read

Noee Abita as 'Ava'
Noee Abita as 'Ava'

French, 105 minutes, 2017

Director: Lea Mysius

Cast: Noee Abita, Laure Calamy, Juan Cano

Awards: Winner SACD Award (for Best Feature), Nominee Camera d’Or and Critics’ week Grand Prize, Cannes Film Festival, 2017; Winner Louve d’Or (Best Film), Montreal festival of New Cinema, 2017: Nominee CineVision Award (Best Film by an Emerging Director), Munich Film Festival; Nominee Sutherland Award (First Feature Competition), London Film Festival, 2017; Winner Best Cinematography (Paul Guilhaume), Stockholm Film Festival, 2017

The movie revolves around a 13 year old girl Ava (Noee Abita), who is soon going to loose her eyesight. Her nightviewing abilities are at risk now which will worsen to loss of peripheral vision and then eventually leading to total blindness. Her mother Maud (Laure Calamy) is distraught at this discovery and wants Ava to have best summer. Ava has young brother too who is a toddler but doesn’t have any friends. Ava now wants to live her life in fast lane.

A chance encounter with a black dog triggers her love for dogs and she tells her mother that she wants to have one. Her mother ignores the matter. Ava then steals, the black dog who actually belongs to Juan (Juan Cano), a homeless guy living under a broken structure on beach. She keeps dog for few days, names it Lupo, but one day on a beach while she is bathing, Juan comes there and takes his dog back and though he sees Ava, bathing nude, he doesn’t do anything. Ava comes back to her house and draws a black rectangle with a circle inscribed within which is not painted black…her interpretation of her shrinking vision.

One day, Lupo lands up at her house with blood on his body. Ava and her mother try to find but can’t see any injury leading to conclusion that Lupo is not hurt but this is someone else’s blood. Ava remembers Juan and runs to his hideout on beach. Sure enough, she finds him injured. She comforts him and stays with him for some time. Next day she gets first aid kit, coke and something to eat for Juan. He takes coke only. Ava sits with him and gradually they get close. She spends her night there. Next morning, police find the duo on beach as they are on lookout because Ava’s mother had filed complaint and they arrest Juan. However, Ava takes Juan’s gun kept inside and threatens to fire if Juan is not released. Police release him and both take off with dog on a robbed bike.

They take shelter in an unused club like facility. Juan tells her that he wants to go back and his injury is the result of a fight over a girl. He asks her if she can help him get his car keys kept in his trailer on a parking site. He cannot go there as police are on lookout for him and he has nobody who can help him. Ava agrees and slips into the park-site posing as a waitress for wedding function. The lady hires her and the plan is to take keys whenever it is possible. At night during wedding celebrations, Ava slips in the trailer and looks for his car keys. She is able to find wallet but not the keys. Police too arrive there and want to check for Juan but the lady stops them from entering premises. However, as groom fires gun shots during celebrations, police enter forcibly and starts searching and arresting people. Juan comes to Ava’s rescue and both manage to run away through risky sea route. As they are walking a secluded path, a car approaches them. The car is driven by Jessica (Tamara Cano), the girl who was getting married and the girl with whom Juan was in love. She gives the car and keys to Juan and hands over her wedding gown’s veil to Ava as a blessing. Both Ava and Juan leave in the car.

As far as the central idea goes, the film’s story and screenplay are good but apart from that nothing touches you. Not even the fact that a 13 year old is going to loose her vision. The screenplay doesn’t support the narrative well enough and as a consequence you fail to get engrossed in an illegal love story between 13 year old girl and 18 year old boy. Laure Calamy, as Ava’s mother though does justice to her role and impresses.

About the director, Lea Mysius

Prolific director and screenplay writer, Lea was born in April of 1989, Bordeux, France. After passing out of school she studied literature at Sorbonne (University of Paris), in Paris. She graduated in screenwriting from La Femis, the film and television school of PSL Research University.

Her first creation was a short film titled ‘Cadavre Exquis’ for which she was also the screenplay writer. The short was appreciated and it won award at ‘Clermont Ferrand international Short film festival’, 2013. After this one she wrote screenplays for lot of short films.

Her first full length feature was ‘Ava’ which she wrote and directed in 2017. In the same year she also collaborated with director Arnaud Desplechin for his film ‘Ismael’s Ghosts’ as co-writer of the screenplay. ‘Ismael’s Ghosts’ was premiered at the opening of the Cannes Film Festival, 2017. ‘The Five Devils’, is Lea’s second feature film which was screened in the ‘Director’s fortnight’ Section at the Cannes Film Festival, 2022. The film was generally well received at the box office and praised by critics. ‘The Five Devils’ is also reviewed by this website.