Gritty, quixotic and spine-quivering: Three words that could be used to describe Iranian director Ana Lily Amirpour’s new film A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night. While the film fits nicely into the film noir genre, it also includes vampire, western and comic elements that leave the viewers feeling an amalgamation of thrill, terror and gutsy elation.
The film’s beating heart is a young vampire who goes by the uncomplicated name “The Girl” (who is also the main character of Amirpour’s darkly whimsical comic book series), and is played by actress Sheila Vand (who bears a strange resemblance to the filmmaker herself). Following The Girl as she aimlessly glides through poorly lit alleyways in a fictitious Iranian town referred to lovingly as “Bad City” (a possible reference to Sin City), the film cultivates intrigue commingled with a distinctive sense of disquietude. The minimalist plot captures chador-clad vampiress as she wanders the streets filled with junkies and criminals until it has her meeting her match with Arash (yes, it’s the same name as this popular, catchy Iranian pop star). The offbeat duo’s dalliance is characterized by an almost cartoon-like game of hide-and-seek.
Amirpour has stated that the film’s soundtrack plays a vital part in character development and overall aesthetics. Along to the technic, moody sounds of Radio Tehran, Arash enters; The Girl herself moving in sharp, enigmatic attacks to jolting Farsi electronic music. The filmmaker’s passions for comics, music and skateboarding are all tangible in the film; The Girl’s silently cruises through velvety, tight-lipped nights on her skateboard (with Amirpour, a lifelong skateboarder, filming those herself).
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night has a strong feminist orientation, which when tied together with the tension and harmony of Iranian culture and American culture, results in a unique, culturally intriguing piece of art.