Film Festival Movie Review

Film Review: A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT: Highly Entertaining, Something for Everyone [LFF 2014]

Sheila Vand A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014Film Review from the 58th Annual BFI London Film Festival, a movie directed by Ana Lily Amirpour, starring Sheila VandArash MarandiDominic RainsMarshall ManeshMozhan MarnóReza 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.

Rating: 9/10

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Subhan Ghani

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