Film Fest Friday Review of “Ava”-Starring John Malkovich and Jessica Chastain

Film Fest Fridays is a collaboration between The North Bend Theatre, North Bend Film Fest, and Volition Brewing to provide a special virtual community event each month to independent film lovers. The series highlights new releases from the independent film world that provide groundbreaking storytelling techniques that encourage and promote the art of cinema. These limited time screening rentals are available virtually online at this ticket link, and may be enjoyed from the comfort of your own home!

On October 8th-11th, the North Bend Film Festival, which typically occurs in August, has partnered up with 5 festivals across the country to present a virtual initiative called NIGHTSTREAM. Badges are currently on sale now with pre-selection beginning Monday 10/5 for badge-holders, and remaining individual tickets will be on sale Wednesday 10/7.

You’re Killing Me [review by French Walker]

With an exhausted plotline and video game-like landscape, I fought to stay interested in Ava. It is with sadness that I report having endured awkward interactions between characters without depth and meaning.

Despite Ava’s fantastic cast, the scenes become parodies of themselves. Geena Davis delivered an iconic performance becoming one of the most memorable female cinema assassins-” with a heart of gold” in 1996’s The Long Kiss Goodnight. But, in every one of Davis’ scenes in Ava, I felt nudged to turn it off and re-watch her superior version of this archetype in cinema instead.

 It felt offensive as a viewer watching knock-off versions of better female leads and films echoed throughout Ava’s plotline. Repeatedly I thought to turn it off and re-watch Atomic Blonde or La Femme Nikita. I know what you must be thinking, you’re from North Bend Washington, surely you were glad to see Joan Chen, who played “Jose” in Twin Peaks as Ava’s crime lordess “Toni”? Nope, this was also a disappointment, and again thoughts of Lucy Lui in Kill Bill arose, and I was drawn back to a film of similar ilk but superior execution.

Jessica Chastain remains committed to her character throughout, and her scenes with Colin Farrel as “Simon” are jewels in this film. John Malcovich basically plays himself as “Duke,” a handler of assassins, and Common’s role as “Michael” is dominated by female characters giving his character a childish appearance that is unbelievable of a man of his stature. Jess Weixler, who plays Ava’s sister “Judy,” is genuinely magnetic. Chastain and Weixler are best friends in life having attended Julliard together and from this angle made their scenes enjoyable to watch.

Oh, Ava, I wanted to love you, I did! The film title was changed from EVE to Ava, a decision made when It’s the first director Mathew Newton was accused of allegations of assault and domestic violence. Newton stepped down from directing the film but is still credited with writing it. Director Tate Taylor (The Help) was hired to replace and finish the project, and Malcovich, Common, and Farrel were brought into the cast.

Chastain delivered, however, could not save the film from its B status or its terrible wigs. Ava does have terrific fight sequences but nothing new. Every performance in this film is a solid 2.5. It took me hours to finish it, pausing to come back again, Ava became a chore to finish.

I give it 2.5 cups of coffee out of 5.

[Pacific Northwest native and multimedia artist French Walker has contributed the past 30 years creating audio that has been featured internationally in television, radio, and film. In America, her music has been featured in motion pictures Homegrown, Scream, and Johns. Currently, she is working on her MFA in screenwriting at The David Lynch Graduate School of Cinematic Arts and locally founded the publishing company The Temple of Venus, Our Lady of Light in the town she loves and calls home, North Bend, Washington.]

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