Ava opens with a scene we can all recognise: a mother dropping off her daughter at school, the daughter complaining of embarrassment, the mother fussing over lunch and safety. But here, this comfortable relationship is quickly soured by the invasive atmosphere that permeates Ava’s life wherever she goes. Though the circulation of gossip, controversial chatter and honour placed on silly bets is normal for teenagers in an all-girl school, this childish obsession with appearance is magnified by the maternal figures of the film, leading to life-altering consequences beyond playground pride. 

After a lie that leads to an unwarranted visit to the gynaecologist, our titular heroine begins to test the limits of this invisible panopticon of spite. Her frustration is completely understandable to the viewer, but not a single adult figure in the film knows how to handle rebellion. The sins of the parents become Ava’s downfall; rather than protecting her from their mistakes, they perpetuate the misogynistic stereotypes that they fear. Every miscommunication is a nail in the coffin for her promising future, and Foroughi’s script and closeup shots are unafraid to reinforce this agony. 

Though the social politics can be hard to follow, Jabbari’s performance is unforgettable, with hurt and rage emanating from her and multiplying as every slight chips away at Ava’s sanity. This is not a victorious story of liberation, like Al-Mansour’s Wadjda or Ergüven’s Mustang—it instead harkens to the unresolved tension of Asghar Farhadi. Not everyone trapped in these circumstances can find a way out within the time-frame of a film.    

In a society so rigid, Sadaf Foroughi seethes for those who can’t get their fairytale Matilda ending. From an absent father, to an overbearing mother, to judgemental teachers who care only for reputation, each character represents those failing these lost girls in this oppressive morality tale. 



CAST: Mahour Jabbari, Vahid Aghapoor, Bahar Noohian, Parnian Akhtari, Shayesteh Sajadi 

DIRECTOR: Sadaf Foroughi

WRITER: Sadaf Foroughi 

SYNOPSIS: Model student Ava begins to spiral when her mother overreacts and humiliates her in front of her friends. Soon every aspect of her life becomes suffocating, leaving her with nowhere to turn.