A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
Autumn 2015 wWednesday series
Wednesday, October 28, 2015 at 7:00pm
Directed by Ana Lily Amirpour
Screenplay by Ana Lily Amirpour
Starring Sheila Vand, Arash Marandi, and Marshall Manesh
Rated NR ·
Persian /w subtitles
“For centuries, vampires have provided handy metaphors for social and physical dilemma, but in the stylishly muted deadpan romance A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, the threat is personal. Writer-director Ana Lily Amirpour’s stunning debut, produced by Elijah Wood, follows the experiences of a small Iranian town haunted by a vampiric presence who is just as lonely as the other locals. Shot in gorgeously expressionistic black-and-white and fusing multiple genres into a thoroughly original whole, Amirpour has crafted a beguiling, cryptic and often surprisingly funny look at personal desire that creeps up on you with the nimble powers of its supernatural focus. The director combines elements of film noir and the restraint of Iranian New Wave cinema with the subdued depictions of a bored youth culture found in early Jim Jarmusch…the comparisons go on and on, but the result is wholly original.
From the first frame to its last, the movie establishes a spellbinding atmosphere with long takes, deep shadows, and lively music cues ironically positioned against the cerebral quality of the storytelling, hinting at the vitality threatening to burst forth from its lethargic universe at any moment. Set in the fictional Iranian ghost town tellingly labeled Bad City—but actually shot in California—A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night initially focuses on the downtrodden plight of Arash (Arash Marandi), a hip young man who wanders the empty streets accompanied by his husky cat. Coping with the destructive junkie habits of his bumbling father (Marshall Manesh) and staving off the oppression of local crime lord Saeed (Dominic Rains), Arash says little but constantly moves around, his grave expression connoting a desire to take control of his life. The opportunity arrives in a remarkable sequence in which criminal Saeed takes home a quiet, stone-faced woman (Sheila Vand, Argo) he finds on the street, performs a bizarrely tribalistic dance of seduction and attempts to get physical with her—before she drains his blood dry. Arash arrives at Saeed’s home shortly after the incident, discovers the body and jacks his drugs to launch his own street business.
Meanwhile, Amirpour fleshes out the somber life of the mysterious vampire woman, a doe-faced goth who wears a chic striped shirt visible beneath her burka. Though her origins remain obscured, as she trails various locals late at night, she quickly turns into the face of repression burdening all of them. When she traumatizes a neighborhood boy and threatens to watch his behavior for the rest of his life, it is the first indication of a light at the end of the tunnel, a means of righting the wrongs in this broken world. But it is not until she forms a curiously moving romance with Arash—whom she discovers drugged up after a late night costume party, dressed as Dracula—that A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night truly moves beyond its elegant form and develops an emotional core.” (Eric Kohn, indieWIRE)
“A new vampire classic, one to treasure endlessly.” (Drew Taylor, The Playlist)
“It is the way in which the writer-director uses the specter of vampires and vices to take an off-center cut at Iranian gender politics and U.S.-Eurocentric pop culture that sets the film apart.” (Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times)
“Beguiling in its strangeness, yet also effortlessly evoking recognizable emotions such as loneliness and the feeling of being stuck in a dead-end town and life, this moody and gorgeous film is finally more about atmosphere and emotions than narrative—and none the worse for it.” (Boyd van Hoeij, The Hollywood Reporter)