Ayar, a first-generation American Latina (played by Ariana Ron Pedrique), returns home to reunite with her daughter, Jasmine (played by Calliah Sophie Estrada). But when her mother, Renata (played by Vilma Vega), refuses to let her see her due to COVID, Ayar is confronted by the many roles she’s been forced to play, including the role in this film. [screening during the 2021 North Bend Film Festival)]
There is an original kind of experimentation here like I haven’t quite seen done in such a way before. I don’t want to spoil it because I think that is part of the allure to me, but in a word, I would vaguely describe it as “meta” with touches of documentary-style filmmaking. It changed up the pace of what many will consider a slow burner of a movie. If we didn’t get this inventive
The primary arc of the story follows a traditional three-act structure that undoubtedly works, so you will walk away from this having seen the conflict-resolution played out in its entirety.
One thing that I do wish was expanded upon a little bit more was our main character, Ayar. We don’t really get to know much character development from her until the film is almost over, which is meaningful by the end but a struggle until you get there.
Visually speaking, there is a technique employed when we meet a character for the first time in which it flashes through a montage of photos giving us a split second backstory about who they are as people. I would also compare its cinematography style to that of The Florida Project with that yellow-soaked, A24-esque color palette.
I caution audiences not to be turned off by the COVID-related elements of this film. I think they pulled off the whole mask-wearing, social-distancing, scared-to-be-around-people chapter of our lives in a way that felt true to what it was without making it a movie about the disease itself.
There’s nothing entirely unique in what the story is telling, but there is something to be said about how they tell it. That’s not to say that it’s predictable. By that, I mean it leaves a satisfying taste in your mouth because there are no questions left unanswered. It is nonetheless an enjoyable watch that is mysterious and experimental in its approach to unfold the story.
Ayar, directed by Floyd Russ, has a runtime of 84 minutes and features both English and Spanish.