Arthouse film Aviva relates the tale of a couple going through the ups and downs of a relationship. In essence, it’s a straight-forward plot, but what renders it intriguing are the stylistic choices adopted to narrate the story. All of the main cast are interpreted by dancers, so when dialogues reach their expressive limit, there are choreographies that continue the conversation. Movement, nudity and sensuality are at the core of director Boaz Yakin’s experimental movie, which is certainly quirky but far more concerned with style than substance.
Aviva is a Parisian girl who connects with New York actor Eden online. The two start an intense and idyllic virtual romance which is soon tested by Aviva’s decision to move to the US to go live with him. Every stage of their love presents a different set of trials which gradually cause a deepening rift between them, although they are continually drawn back to each other.
The surprising element in how their partnership is depicted, is that each one of them is split into two actors: a male and a female. The actors swap places depending on whether the protagonists’ masculine or feminine side is more prominent in that moment. Although some may find this choice confusing, the interchangeability of the actors representing the same character is an effective approach in that it deconstructs their psyche and lays contradictions bare. It also encourages looking beyond appearances, without getting attached to a character’s outer form.
The charming cinematography makes the viewing experience captivating indeed – and Bobbi Jene Smith’s choreographies work well as they add a raw, sensual dimension which are also skilfully shot. What the feature lacks is depth and authenticity behind the narrative. The plot seems like nothing more than a pretext to experiment with artistic devices – an exercise that sometimes becomes self-indulgent.
Aviva often gets lost in its own desire to play around, at the expense of allowing its audience to connect with the characters and truly believe their stories. It does, however, deliver stylistically and has an interesting take on the psychological complexities and the physical aspect of relationships.
Aviva is released digitally on demand on 30th April 2021.
Watch the trailer for Aviva here: