A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014) dir. Ana Lily Amirpour


When you first sit down to watch A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, you’ll be quick to notice that, along with a deluge of other production credits, this is a movie made by VICE Films. You might shudder, dreading what’s in store – is this the beginning of the corporate entertainment machine that is VICE destroying cinema or is this as ground-breaking as the media company’s acclaimed, in-the-shit brand of investigative journalism? Sadly, despite being visually striking, what you get with this movie is what you would expect from the media giant. This is not to say that A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night doesn’t have its shining moments.


A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is Iranian director Ana Lily Amirpour’s debut film and is being lauded as the first and only Iranian Vampire Western. Set in Bad City (maybe it’s supposed to be in Iran, but this is shot in the Californian desert) against a backdrop of ramshackle apartments and constantly churning oil fields, the film is presented in stunning black-and-white making it more Jim Jarmusch meets David Lynch meets Sin City than your typical Western. In fact, the film is hardly a Western at all – I’d classify it as a magic realism film noir. The crisp (lack of) colors do much to support this film and do much to heighten the mood of this peculiar blood sucker flick.


Our vampire is perhaps the most striking onscreen character I’ve seen in a while (runner ups from this film include the James Dean look-a-like protagonist and a pimp/drug dealer with a shitty stick-and-poke on his neck that says “SEX”). She is quiet like the grave. Her traditional dress makes her fade into the shadows. Her eyes are big, surrounded by thick eyeliner, and warn us of her predatory nature with a piercing gaze. She stalks the dark streets of Bad City in a full chador – a young hipster queen of the night who even skateboards down the suburban streets (goddamn you, VICE!) at one point as her striped shirt creates a stunning moiré pattern. In her spare time, this ancient monster lives in a manic-pixie-dream-girl basement plastered in concert posters from across decades and listens to sad indie rock on her record player. It is here that film begins to deviate toward the unbearable.


Without the music, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night would have been a unique, stunning, art-house film about a female vampire that kicks ass and defies the regulations her culture forces onto her gender. With it, we get about 30 minutes of screen time that is totally unnecessary and reads like an artsy music video (see especially the random scene in the middle of the film where a cross-dresser wearing a frilly cowboy shirt, which is perhaps the only recognizably Western element of the film, dances with a black balloon). Although some of these scenes help move the plot along, these music video moments coupled with drawn out, Lynchian pauses might make the faint of attention claw out their own eyes or at least doze off.


This is the only true fault of the film and if you’re willing to endure some waiting (I mean, you’re sitting at home watching music videos on Youtube anyway), A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is an atmospheric cruise that will stay burned into your retinas. Come for the visuals, don’t believe the corporate hype, and look past its failings to see a movie that resonates with something deeply moving. Also, it features a cat (goddamn you, VICE!).

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
Dir. Ana Lily Amirpour
107 min

Now Screening at Coolidge Corner Theatre
(N.B. The film is mostly being shown, except for this weekend’s midnight screenings, for a limited time in the 14-seat theatre. Get your tickets in advance because this will sell out!)

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