I love when filmmakers send me their movies and ask me to watch them. It’s always a daunting proposition — all I do is throw a few hundred words at something that may have been their life’s work, you know? That said, when Catherane Skillen sent me a copy of her film AVA: A Twist In the Road, it didn’t seem like the kind of movie that I usually have on the site.
But then I watched it and I’m honestly fascinated by it.
Ava (Skillen) and Bobby (Bill Lewis) are an older couple who, if you met them, you may think that they’ve been married forever. But Ava came along as the second wife, taking care of Bobby while his first wife had mental issues and was hospitalized for years. Now, they travel the world, he keeps her in a gorgeous condo and she wants for nothing other than to have more of his time, because all Bobby does is work.
It’s not a bad life. It isn’t perfect. But again, it’s not a bad life.
But then Bobby dies. And that’s when everything changes.
Everything Ava owned belonged to his company. And his son Bob Jr. (Steve Dellatori) has been waiting to get Ava out of his life forever.
The reason why I’m fascinated with AVA is that it has such an intriguing narrative because it drops us into her life and by the end, we’re unsure if she’ll be able to succeed. All of her monetary possessions no longer seem important to her, she’s found an actual job that before would be beneath her and she’s trying to connect with others. And then…that’s the end.
The camera in this has a strange focus, darting all over, cutting to images in the middle of conversations and at times feeling hallucinatory yet that adds to the overall experience for me. Because unlike so much of what we consume for entertainment, AVA is incredibly real and honest. It feels lived in. It feels authentic.
There are moments when the tone wildly shifts — I saw one review that took the movie to task for this — and I think that makes it feel true to life. And while not all of the acting is perfect, Skillen is really great at the role. You can’t help but be on her side.
I’d really be interested to know how she was inspired to make this. It seems like she acted in the 70s — an episode of Columbo in 1976, the TV movie Dog and Cat in 1977 with Richard Lynch and an appearance in 1978’s Katie: Portrait of a Centerfold and the TV series Jessie in 1984 are all that are on her IMDB before she started creating AVA as a web series in 2017.
So yeah. If you have a movie, send it my way. I do so love seeing original visions. This is definitely one of those. And it’s cool to see an older — but still fabulous — woman in the spotlight (and heading up the creative end, too).