Nurturing and loving teaching assistant Ava (Claire Rushbrook) and fun and warm property manager Ali (Adeel Akhtar) meet and begin an unlikely romance. She is the widow of an abusive husband. He is in the process of separation but still lives with his wife. Together they find solace in each other, connecting through their wounds, their shared love of music and their surroundings. As with Clio Barnard’s previous films such as The Selfish Giant and The Arbor, the characters are not separate from but are parts of the whole that make up their environment. With perfect central performances and Barnard’s sensitive direction, Ali & Ava is nuanced and heartfelt, a drama full of intelligence and charm.