Movie Review: A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night

@TigersMS78 was lucky enough to catch the Australian premiere of A Girl Walk Home Alone At Night at the CIFF [Canberra International Film Festival]…

Ana Lily Amirpour’s A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night is a difficult film to review. On the one hand the film is out and out Art-house with the black & white, minimal dialogue, some odd dance scenes – you know your usual suspects in an Art-house film but at the same time it creates a great deal of tension, laced with a feeling that something bad could happen at any time without really building up to a climax perse. The film has been described as a feminist vampire western – I mostly agree with that description.

A quick synopsis – In the Iranian ghost-town of Bad City the townspeople are unaware they are being stalked by a lonesome vampire. Which is pretty much all you need to know, in terms of what it is about. The fictional town in which the film is set seems to be a hybrid town where it is stuck between tradition and progress, except tradition has been pushed aside and progress stopped, the town is virtually empty except for drug pushers, thugs, hookers and a vampire.

The film takes a while to establish the main human character Arash (Arash Marandi) a James Dean-esque good guy who seems to be the only (relatively) decent soul in the town, he works hard and supports his smack addicted father. We meet the town’s drug dealer Saeed (Dominic Rains) who is the epitome of the East/West mix the town seems to have. Then we meet our Vamp. Played by Shelia Vand, the vampire is certainly some kind of dark angel for the town. When the drug dealer invites her back to his place you know what’s going to happen but it doesn’t quite happen the way you think. Eventually of course Arash and the vampire meet – in a pretty amusing way – and the story goes from there.

For an Iranian film, the setting doesn’t seem like the Iran I have seen or read about but maybe that is the point. Much like a lot of the film there is a nod or a slight comment on social issues but it is never fully expanded on. The idea of a vampire in a hijab is an image that would no doubt be evocative for some, particularly when you compare the image vampires have in modern day TV/Films, they are sensual, sexually confident and aware, a total juxtaposition as to what the hijab is used for in terms of modesty and the like. It seems strange that not much is made of this and maybe there was no intention to do so, perhaps (and with every right) it was just an image the director wanted and to be fair it’s a striking one that looks totally bad ass. The other issue not touched on (in the film at least) is the fact that this is a female made film from Iran which lends itself to some discussion either way, as the vampire is a woman and the kills are all men, this could be seen as a dig at the gender power balance.

The film is filled with really cool visuals and has a really cool and eclectic music throughout, the use of sound design in the film is excellent adding tension when there really shouldn’t be any, and the deep, distorted rumblings make for a foreboding which sadly doesn’t really ever arrive. A Girl Walk Home Alone at Night doesn’t really fully flesh out parts of its story, neither the love story nor the issue that the vampire may indeed be watching over the good people in the city and draining the bad. Having said that, for a film which I am sure will get called ‘boring’ where ‘nothing happens’ it has a plenty style but not enough substance, certainly not the only film to be guilty of this but the style is totally and effortlessly cool. I am looking forward to seeing what Ana Lily Amirpour has in store for us in the future.

Ryan Morrissey-Smith

Follow @TigersMS78 on twitter

Images: Wikipedia & IMDb

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