NashFilm52: ‘Ayar’ Review

Ayar is an ambitious work detailing life’s struggles that falls flat ahead of juggling what it wants to be.

Courtesy of NashFilm

I was really looking forward to this film. When we received our press release document with all the films that would be playing at Nashville Film Festival this one in particular caught my eye. I suppose I gravitate a lot to these stories because they are stories that are far too known in my community. Of course, the relevancy behind it dealing with the current COVID-19 pandemic made it more topical. All of that and more led for me to watch this film in my first few days of the festival.

Ayar is directed by Floyd Russ and written by Russ along with our two main actresses Ariana Ron Pedrique and Vilma Vega. The cast also includes Henry Foster Brown, Simon Haycock, Calliah Sophie Estrada, and Caeser Hartman. The film is magnificently shot by Corey C. Waters. Ayar looks at our titular character as she returns to see her daughter after years not seeing her during the height of lockdown because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Of course, it’s not as easy as we think and Ayar needs to go through her own set of obstacles to be able to see her daughter. The film mixes narrative and a documentary style into it to create an ambitious directorial work in Russ’ filmography.

Ayar does not work most of the time and when it works is when it is not juggling the two types of films it is trying to present. The film includes some beautiful cinematography and a wonderful score by Victor Magro. The editing is jarring and is so difficult to pinpoint a pace it is trying to go for. The performances are solid but I feel like the strongest aspect is our story and the themes it presents. The concept’s ambition is really what makes this movie contrived in a sense. There is a lot that can be done if the film did not have to juggle so much. It does not work but that does not mean it was not a worthwhile watch because what we learn through the message of the film is important.

Overall, this film did not much to move my needle but it was a worthwhile watch from this wonderful festival.

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