Sponsor

New Release Review - A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT

A female vampire stalks the streets of a fictional Iranian city.


Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Ana Lily Amirpour

Starring: Sheila Vand, Arash Marandi, Marshall Manesh, Mozhan Marno, Dominic Rains



"Like a teenager spending hours on her makeup to get the 'natural' look, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night expounds an awful lot of energy in its quest for effortless cool, but it left this reviewer decidedly lukewarm."



Few items of clothing stir up such feelings in western society as the hijab. It draws the ire of liberals, who see the garment as a symbol of Islam's oppressive treatment of women, and conservatives, who simply don't like to be confronted by those who remind them of the existence of other cultures. Fitting then that the hijab should join the hockey mask as a symbol of horror, worn as it is by the antihero female vampire of writer-director Ana Lily Amirpour's feature debut A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night.
Though lensed in America and featuring a Persian-American cast, the movie plays out in the fictional Iranian town of Bad City, an under-populated metropolis not unlike the Los Angeles of Alex Cox's Repo Man. At night, The Girl (Sheila Vand) stalks the streets in search of human throats to sink her teeth into. Her late night ramblings bring her in contact with the pimps, johns and hookers of the city's underworld, but also with Arash (Arash Marandi), a disillusioned young man who confuses her by appearing dressed as Dracula on his way home from the world's most pretentious Halloween party. Both outsiders, the two form a bond, but can The Girl resist her new boy's neck?
There's something of a feminist revenge fantasy element to the idea of a young Muslim woman preying on abusive older Muslim men, and seeing The Girl's innocent young face wrapped in a hijab, it's impossible not to draw a parallel with the image of Zoe Lund clad in a nun's habit in Abel Ferrara's rape-revenge thriller Ms 45. Sadly, Amirpour seems less interested in exploring this idea than in creating a sub-Jarmuschian atmosphere of vapid cool. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is insufferably hip at times, and watching its mannered narrative play out is like being stuck in the sort of bar whose patrons all insist on wearing sunglasses indoors. Every couple of scenes, the movie pauses for a character to put on a record (an actual record; no mp3s for these hipsters) and spend the next four minutes dancing in that languid disinterested fashion that screams "I'm dancing but I'm not enjoying it."
As a fan of black and white cinematography, I'm the first to give a filmmaker a pretension pass for choosing to shoot in monochrome, but here it simply feels like an affectation, as does practically every aspect of the movie, none more so than having Vand's vampire travel on a skateboard. Like a teenager spending hours on her makeup to get the 'natural' look, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night expounds an awful lot of energy in its quest for effortless cool, but it left this reviewer decidedly lukewarm.




discussion by