A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

 

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A story about a vampire that defies all expectations associated with the genre.

 

Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, A

Sheila Vand

 

It could be argued that this film - a first feature by writer/director Ana Lily Amirpour - is a triumph of style over content, but it offers a tremendous cinematic experience. Its provenance is most unusual since, although it is a subtitled film set in Iran and played by an Iranian cast, it was filmed in America. Shot in black and white 'Scope by Lyle Vincent its visual quality is stunning and crucially it enables Amirpour to use the sense of space in ways that add immeasurably to the atmosphere.

 

Sheila Vand plays the titular role and, since the tale is so redolent of a character who will become a victim, the film's first surprise comes with the revelation that this central figure is a vampire. Furthermore, like Jim Jarmusch's vampire tale Only Lovers Left Alive (2013), this can validly be described as a love story. Most of the inhabitants of the film's urban location known as Bad City are unattractive characters such as a drug dealer and pimp (Dominic Rains) who ill-treats a prostitute and the gambler Hossein (Marshall Manach) who is a drug addict. The one sympathetic figure is Hossein's son Arash (Arash Marandi) who tries to look after his father but becomes caught up in the struggle to survive in this environment. He it is who falls in love with the girl little suspecting her true nature.

 

While those looking for standard horror fare may feel ill-served there, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night undoubtedly intrigues. The vampire does not kill haphazardly but selects her victims and at times she comes across as someone there to punish the evildoers in ways that touch on the sphere of morality tales. As for the love story, the viewer  can only guess whether consummation would be fatal for Arash or if this is a case of this unusual vampire being able to earn salvation through love. But what the vampire really represents and what kind of metaphorical tale we may be watching remain unanswered questions. Consequently, although the cast play it well, it is the mastery of filmmaking that makes the strongest impression. But I should just add that when, most unusually, a cat named Masuka is given a solo credit it is well deserved.  

 

MANSEL STIMPSON

 

Cast: Sheila Vand, Arash Marandi, Mozhan MarnĂ², Marshall Manesh, Dominic Rains, Milad Eghbali, Rome Shadanloo, Reza Sixo Safai, Masuka.


Dir Ana Lily Amirpour, Pro Sina Sayyah and Justin Begnaud, Screenplay Ana Lily Amirpour, Ph Lyle Vincent, Pro Des Sergio De La Vega, Ed Alex O'Flinn, Costumes Natalie O'Brien.


SpectreVision/Logan Pictures/Black Light District-StudioCanal.
101 mins. USA. 2014. Rel: 22 May 2015. Cert. 15
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