A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
Yes she does — and as one reviewer has had it, it’s everyone else in this semi-deserted Iranian town “Bad City” that should be scared. And, yes, she drinks blood, but then drug use prevails in this self-described “first Iranian vampire Western” by director/writer Ana Lily Amirpour. There’s Saeed the pimp and his snort, for instance, the pill that the rich girl forces on protagonist Arash at the costume party he’s bartending dressed as Dracula — and, staggering home and losing his way after, still with his “vampire” cape and teeth, guess who he will meet — and Arash’s father Hossein with his needles, not to mention successions of homeless men passed out in alleys. Thus, as in ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE (cf. July 27, June 26) where the vampires complain so much blood is “polluted,” it seems here that everything our unnamed girl drinks will have some kind of spark that’s not just hemoglobin.
She doesn’t mind though, she’s made of tougher stuff. Unlike LOVERS where the good unlife is upset by the plebeian habits of Eve’s little sister Ava, in GIRL virtually everyone is working class. Also like LOVERS, A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT is beautifully filmed — although in a working-class black and white — and with wonderful music. And, also like LOVERS, the actual story is almost dwarfed by the details around it, in this case “Boy meets girl and, despite evidence that when she’d said she has done bad things she really meant it, decides to keep her,” ending the film by literally driving off together into the post-sunset* along with the evidentiary cat. Thus, perhaps, the movie’s theme, as the prostitute Atti tells The Girl during their first (non-sanguinary) meeting, “Only rich people and idiots think things can change” — but when Arash tells his father Hossein that he’d met a girl the previous night, but he neither knows her name nor her family, pop replies telling him that he’s an idiot.
I probably shouldn’t be, but I’m a little bit reminded of the Elina Löwensohn movie NADJA (1994), perhaps simply because that’s an art film too that’s in black and white, in this case based somewhat on 1936’s DRACULA’S DAUGHTER. But I’ve only finished watching A GIRL two hours ago at the IU Cinema, as this is written, so what do I know? To quote from their blurb, “Ana Lily Amirpour’s debut is a joyful mash-up of influences that span spaghetti westerns, graphic novels, horror films, and the Iranian New Wave. Amped by a mix of Iranian rock, techno and Ennio Morricone-inspired riffs, its airy, black-and-white aesthetic and artfully paced scenes combine the simmering tension of Sergio Leone and surrealism of David Lynch. In Persian language with English subtitles.”
I would just add it’s a different kind of vampire film (watch for the repeated scenes of oil pumps pumping — also contrast the Girl’s demure, almost meek appearance with her show of teeth when she’s on the attack), and I recommend it!
*It would be almost too perfect if Arash’s sporty American car was a Ford Mustang, but I believe it’s actually a first generation (1955-57) Thunderbird.