A Tale of Love, War and Loyalty – Ali and Nino (DVD Review)


Directed by Academy Award winning filmmaker Asif Kapadia (Amy, Senna), Ali and Nino tells the heartfelt love story of two star-crossed lovers. Based on a 1937 novel, Ali and Nino is set in 1914 at the brink of war. Educated young Muslim noble Ali (Adam Bakri) and Christian princess Nino (María Valverde) face all odds against them – family objections, religious divides and war. If there was an award for most determined to be together couple, they would definitely win it.

A key ingredient to a good love story is perhaps rather obviously the on-screen chemistry, which Bakri and Valverde share plenty of. This makes Ali and Nino’s blossoming romance ever so pleasant to watch. The audience easily becomes emotionally invested and will find themselves willing hard for the pair to be together despite harsh circumstances threatening to tear them apart.

Another key ingredient is also a good soundtrack, of which this film has. The soundtrack compliments the film perfectly – you may be humming the tune long after watching. The film is also visually stunning. Shot on location, Kapadia captures the beautiful, sweeping Azerbaijani landscape.

 Ali and Nino is not just a tale of two star crossed lovers, it is much more than that. The film also falls into a war and period drama genre and is a very thought provoking watch. We see a revolution brew as Azerbaijan seeks independence from Russia, sparking a world of dramatic change. Ali and Nino will provide you with a dramatic history lesson. There is quite a lot of information around the plot for the audience to take in in terms of the history and politics behind the film however it is paired with consistent action, keeping it fast paced and more importantly – the audience hooked.

 Don’t be put off by the political side to Ali and Nino, the film does not fall short of suspense and features some rather nail-biting scenes. From Ali’s fight to the death to protect his lover to the bloody conflict between Azerbaijan and Russia in a struggle for independence, there is plenty to keep you on the edge of your seat.

 The ending is perhaps a little predictable. Ali and Nino is a story about two star crossed lovers after all, the ending was never guaranteed to be a happy one. In the scenes leading up to the tense finale we know all too well that we are being set up for tragedy – as much as we want Ali and Nino to be together we know that ultimately, they will end up apart. Although the audience can guess what’s coming the ending is emotional nonetheless. If you’re guilty of a good cry in front of a film then I’d recommend keeping a box of tissues nearby.

Ali and Nino is a film for all the family, a powerful love story you can watch time and time again. Not into the soppy stuff? There’s plenty of gunfights to keep you entertained too.

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Dir: Asif Kapadia

Prd: Kris Thykier

Scr: Christopher Hampton

Starring: Adam Bakri, Maria Valverde, Mandy Patinkin

Music by: Dario Marianelli

Year: 2016

Country: UK, Azerbaijan

Ali and Nino is available on DVD now.