5th October 2017 6.30pm at Vue West End
7th October 2017 1.00pm at Rich Mix
9th October 2017 3.15pm at BFI Southbank (NFT)
The mind of a teenager is a dark, crazy place. In Léa Mysius’s wild debut, we follow the activities of 13-year-old loner, Ava (Noée Abita). An eye-doctor diagnoses her with retinitis pigmentosa, and she gradually loses her sight in the dark. This sets her on a bizarre and turbulent adventure.
Mysius ignites her filmmaking career with a thrilling, raunchy, coming-of-age drama with the staccato pace of a French New Wave movie – only without the pretension. She takes the best parts of Jean-Luc Godard, most noticeably Pierrot le fou, and inserts her own empathetic style. Godard was never known as an emotional filmmaker, but Mysius is the closest we’ve come to seeing what that looks like. Ava’s nihilistic spontaneity and the weird, sexual journey she takes with an older rebel, Juan (Juan Calo), is exciting to watch – particularly since we don’t know where it will lead. But this Bonnie and Clyde fantasy is not without its sorrow, shown in Ava’s inner conflicts and indecisiveness.
Over the past year, talent has poured form younger actors and Noée Abita is no different. Her performance is electric on screen, capturing a mature sense of self whilst preserving a glimpse of cheeky childishness. Despite her character’s many scenes of nudity, under Mysius’s careful eye it never feels gratuitous or exploitative.
Paul Guilhaume’s cinematography is beautifully tied to Ava’s character and the way she sees the world. Guilhaume represents her night-blindness by jacking up the contrast in the image, emphasising the dark colours in her vision during the daytime. At night, the shots are virtually opaque. We live in her world and one can get lost in its wonder, and its terror.
Ava has a place among the best film debuts, and the names on that list continue to make equally enthralling projects. Mysius is not a filmmaker who will fade away after one feature and be forgotten about. We’ll enjoy her movies, Ava especially, for years to come.
Ava does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews and interviews from our London Film Festival 2017 coverage here.
For further information about the festival visit the official BFI website here.
Watch the trailer for Ava here: