A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014) Film Review from the 58th Annual BFI London Film Festival, a movie directed by Ana Lily Amirpour, starring Sheila Vand, Arash Marandi, Dominic Rains, Marshall Manesh, Mozhan Marnó, Reza Sixo Safai, Rome Shadanloo, Pej Vahdat, Milad Eghbali, and Ray Haratian.
In an unknown middle-eastern town, a girl walks alone at night. This girl, however, has nothing to be scared of, for she is a vampire. A vampire, who treads the dark streets of this nameless city, preying on the predators, and fighting for the weak. That was the basic premise of the film. A film which I believe has all the components to become a cult classic.
There was something about the film that just seemed a little different. Not odd, and not particularly bad, just something different. This isn’t your typical vampire movie, nor is it a female revenge film, like Kill Bill (2003). It’s a work of incredible imagination, which brings together a talented, virtually unknown cast, in a film that tackles real issues with a compelling story. Consider it a middle-eastern, spaghetti western noir film with a bit of vampirism thrown into the mix to spice things up.
The girl, played by Sheila Vand, is a young middle-eastern woman with a love for the 80’s. Her room is adorned with posters and trinkets she’s collected over time. Her chador (her covering garment) in many ways acts as a decoy. She is the embodiment of intrigue. In a country where woman are still treated as fragile, and seen as inferior to men, the girl oozes self-reliance. She doesn’t need a man to protect her and this subtle confidence is played beautifully by Vand. Her knowing smile is seductive, her coy nature- mesmerising, and her ability to humanize a monster is perhaps, the biggest draw of the film.
Like any modern vampire film, there is a love interest. Though, fortunately this one doesn’t glow in the sunlight. The girl’s love interest is a young man named Arash. Arash is a bashful and painfully naïve individual. Though he likes to think of himself as the reincarnation of James Dean, he’s far from being a bad-boy greaser. His interactions with the girl are possibly the strangest and most sensual romantic scenes I’ve seen in quite a while. The chemistry between the two adds to the film’s charm and one scene in particular (when the two orbit each other under a disco ball), gives us a glimpse of Amirpour’s directorial talent.
As debuts go, this was a fantastic first try. The film was highly entertaining, and was original, which in the days of constant re-boots and sequels, was a welcome surprise. I can honestly say that this is the best middle-eastern inspired vampire film I’ve ever seen, to be fair, there aren’t many that I can think of. Some scenes felt like they dragged on. Amirpour, clearly having a certain vision and in her attempt to showcase that vision to the audience, may have stayed a few seconds longer than she needed to in certain scenes.
At the end of the day, the film is unlike anything you’re likely to see this year. I’d say take a friend and go watch this film. It is cheesy, funny, strange, interesting, sad, and compelling, all while being unpredictable.
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