Flying well under the radar, ALI & AVA is a bona fide gem.

Age has not withered Ava. In her fifties and from an Irish-Catholic background, Bradford born and bred, Ava is a devoted mother, grandmother and teaching assistant who fills her time looking after others and listening to country and folk music, masking the scars left by an abusive ex-husband.

Custom has not staled Ali, a charismatic, always look on the bright bright side of life adherent, avid music and book lover and moon watcher. Still living with his estranged wife, he hides their separation from his family, painfully continuing the charade of marital domesticity because he still loves her.

When they come together it’s a slow burn romance, sparked by flint of fun, which they share, fanned by opposing musical tastes, which they are willing to explore.

Sans saccharine, ALI & AVA is quite simply, a charmer, thanks to the bedrock script and direction by Clio Barnard and the palpable chemistry between the two leads.

Claire Rushbrook is just absolutely lovable as Ava, a sunflower serenity in a performance and characterisation you just want to hug.

Adeel Akhtar exudes a cheeky irreverence as Ali, boisterous without being bothersome, flamboyance without annoyance.

Both lonely for different reasons, despite their own fears about intimacy and expectations of their families and communities, Ava and Ali embark on a romance that is tender and real, and not without repercussion and consequence.

ALI & AVA is a mature love story that is firmly grounded which makes the reaching for the stars all the more real, heartfelt and feet sweepingly sweet.

Flying under the radar, LI & AVA is worth seeking and intercepting.

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