A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night: A Review
Directed by: Ana Lily Amirpour
Just when it seemed like everything that could be done with the vampire myth in cinema had been done, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night appears as “the first Iranian vampire Western”. Shot in moody black and white and with an appropriately cool soundtrack (not scored, but using music from artists such as Radio Tehran, Federale and White Lies), A Girl Walks Home is certainly stylish – but there is a sense throughout that it lacks enough real substance to get your teeth into.
Of course, in a primarily visual medium, style can go a long way. The film looks beautiful with its stark two-tone colour palette, creating a kind of evocatively dangerous allure; its setting of ‘Bad City’ at once crackles with barely concealed violence, and feels like it’s sinking into hopeless, grimy decay, as though retreating into a great black shadow. In fact, though Amirpour may not be consciously cribbing from Jim Jarmusch, it undeniably feels like something he would at least approve of.
The titular Girl (we’re never told her name) is our vampire. She is an instantly enigmatic figure, played with ambiguous morality by Sheila Vand – she seems to prey mostly on those who have it coming (especially sleazy pimp Saeed, played menacingly by Dominic Rains), but isn’t above threatening children and feeding on the homeless. Cloaked and cast in shadow, she walks/skateboards around Bad City, apparently bored and listless until she meets Arash (Arash Marandi), a sort of Iranian James Dean figure, and the two strike up a strange friendship/romance. Arash drives a cool car and has a nicely coiffured quiff, but has a troubled home life, trying to take care of his hopeless junkie father (Marshall Manesh). Heroin use is actually prevalent throughout, suggesting a kind of parallel between drug abuse and The Girl’s thirst for blood – something she seems to resist only with Arash.
Those looking for a rich, compelling narrative in A Girl Walks Home will likely be disappointed; but nothing can detract from its gorgeous cinematography and the moody, chilly atmosphere it creates. For her technical ability at the very least (considering this is her debut feature length), Amirpour is certainly a name to look out for.