Watch-List: Aviva – choreographed storytelling that explores love, sexuality, and gender

The latest project from filmmaker Boaz Yakin is Aviva.

The synopsis sounds simple – after meeting online, transatlantic lovers Aviva and Eden embark on a tumultuous courtship, love affair and marriage. The couple struggles, separates, and tries to get back together, as dual aspects of each one’s personality battles forces inside and out.

But this is not conventional storytelling, and this is not a conventional film.

Firstly, this is a dance film. With Brechtian directness, Yakin makes it clear to us that the players we are watching are dancers who are also doing some acting.

Secondly, as the narrative unfolds, the characters are played by different performers, with genders frequently changing. Sometimes, both the male and female performers are on screen representing the one character. It sounds confusing, but it’s surprisingly coherent.

This is a beautiful film. While there is dialogue, it’s when the characters are dancing that we really get to feel their emotions.

There’s also plenty of nudity and sex – not in a gratuitous way, but just people comfortable with their bodies and comfortable with their sexuality.

You could describe this film as an exercise in gender-fluidity, but that doesn’t quite do it justice. The switching of genders does somehow focus you in on what the characters are saying, what they are feeling, and what’s motivating them.

It’s not totally clear what Yakin is saying about masculinity and femininity, or the duality of our personalities, but this style of storytelling does emphasise the universality of the experience of falling in love, trying to connect with another person, trying to build a life together.

The cast includes Zina Zinchenko, Or Schraiber, Bobbi Jene Smith, and Tyler Phillips Tyler Phillips.

It’s worth watching if you feel like falling in love, or just fancy a bit of dancing.

Aviva is distributed by Matchbox Films

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