"Music can make us come alive, provided that we bring our lives to the music. For each of us, life and music intertwine. Without songs and music making, neither one of us could understand the stories of our particular lives. And without songs and music making, neither one of us could understand what words like spirit and spirituality mean either. For us music and song are intimately related to spirituality, to being alive to what is deepest in and about the human journey."
— Don Saliers and Emily Saliers in A Song to Sing, a Life to Live: Reflections on Music as Spiritual Practice
Ava and Ali are two lonely middle-class souls who share a love of music. They would agree with what the Saliers say above.
Ava (Clair Rushbrook) is an Irish-born widow with four grown children. She depends on music for spiritual uplift. We see her singing karaoke and keeping fit with a Bollyrobics video. She favors folk and country music.
Ava spends a lot of time caring for the children at the school where she is an assistant. One of her favorites is Sofia (Ariana Bodorova), a Slovakian girl, who is driven to school each day by Ali, a British Pakistani who is the landlord of the girl’s building.
Ali is in the process of breaking up with his wife Runa (Ellora Toechia), who is attending college. They live with his extended family. He is a DJ in his spare time and has an incredible collection of high-energy music in his apartment. He loves rap and electronica.
As Ali and Ava become friends, his tradition-minded relatives are upset about his separation and her racist son Callum (Shaun Thomas) is angered at the idea that she would have a Black boyfriend. Will their mutual love of music help sustain this relationship? Writer and director Clio Barnard has created an engaging interracial love story where music provides the key to survival in tough times.
Watching this relationship grow, we were reminded of something Paul Winter said in Music: Physician for Times to Come by Don Campbell:
“Each morning as we hum or chant or strum or drum, we can celebrate the renewal of our path, our life-song, or the journey of our fledgling species, with our own humble offering of the glorious gift called music.”