The first Iranian Vampire film
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night blends conventional elements into something brilliantly original -- and serves as a striking calling card for writer-director Ana Lily Amirpour. -- rotten tomatoes
We turn to tonight’s opening film, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, and back to Ed Gonzalez:
“Ana Lily Amirpour’s imaginary vision of an Iranian underworld, shot in Los Angeles, is one where trees look like atomic mushroom clouds, pimps and hookers freely roam the streets, bodies are rolled into ditches like clockwork, and the rich huddle unseen in the shadows.
This ‘Tehrangeles,’ as Amirpour has called it, is captured in radiant black and white, and the standoffs between the living and the maybe-dead that play out on its sparsely walked streets and sidewalks are framed as western duels. Post-punk in the key of Joy Division haunts the soundtrack as deeply as the clouds that perpetually darken what feel like ever-night skies. This could be the dominion of Henry Spencer, the Man with No Name, even the three imprisoned amigos from Down by Law. Really, though, it’s the feeding ground of a stone-faced, hijab-clad girl whose fangs come out whenever she catches a whiff of moral rot.”
Amirpour’s “vampire is a solitary walker in a sad world populated by pimps, drug addicts, a possibly decent guy and a cat that might be searching for Llewyn Davis,” writes A.O. Scott in the NYT.
“Amirpour has made a rock ’n’ roll Persian feminist fable in which the character evoked in the title, an emblem of female vulnerability, is also an agent of revenge. The film’s anger is balanced by a Jim Jarmusch-like cool and by a disarmingly innocent outlaw romanticism.”
When it premiered at Sundance, Guy Lodge wrote in Variety that this “auspicious debut feature spices its genre stew with elements of Lynchian neo-noir and even spaghetti Western, but the film’s pointed, contemporary gender politics are very much its own…. No film that revels in extended shots of a poker-faced, hijab-clad Nosferata cruising the streets for blood on a slow-rolling skateboard can be said to be playing things entirely straight, but Amirpour’s film also avoids the midnight-madness irreverence that its genre-mashing premise might have invited. Neither, for all its still-of-the-desert-night atmosphere, is Girl an entirely cold-hearted exercise, as it etches a sweet, sad and solemnly fatalistic love story between feeding times.”
“Though there’s some mordant wit, Girl is really a film of hushed tones and quiet rhythms, especially as it develops into an unlikely, delicately handled love story of sorts,” writes Boyd van Hoeij for the Hollywood Reporter.
Ana Lily Amirpour 2014
“The director and editor Alex O’Flinn take their time—occasionally too much time—to observe the characters, and the introspective mood is enhanced by the monochrome visuals and exquisite use of the widescreen canvas of cinematographer Lyle Vincent (he also shot Sundance title Cooties with Elijah Wood, who’s an executive producer here). Equally important is the soundtrack, with music ranging from the Middle Eastern fusion beats of Bei Ru to the underground Iranian rock of Radio Tehran and Kiosk to the spaghetti western-inspired tunes of Portland-based Federale.”
More from Glenn Dunks (Film Experience), Beth Hanna (Thompson on Hollywood), Eric Kohn (Indiewire, A), Drew McWeeney (HitFix) and Ben Umstead (Twitch). Danielle Lurie and Sarah Salovaara talk with Amirpour for Filmmaker, and Emma Myers interviews her for Film Comment.
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A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
Director: Ana Lily Amirpour
Producer: Sina Sayyah
This super-stylish and spellbinding Persian take on the vampire genre doubles as a compact metaphor for the current state of Iran. Ana Lily Amirpour’s debut feature guides us on a dreamlike walk on the wild side, into the nocturnal and sparsely populated underworld of “Bad City,” an Iran of the mind that nevertheless rings true. In a cool and brooding scenario that involves just a handful of characters, an alluring female vampire stalks potential victims with a judgmental eye—but isn’t immune to romantic desire when it presents itself in the form of a young hunk who’s looking for a way out of his dead-end existence. With to-die-for high-contrast black-and-white cinematography and a sexy cast that oozes charisma, horror has seldom seemed so hot. -- newdirectors.org
Language: Persian with English subtitles