They had me at vampire in a chador. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is a great film and a helluva introduction to filmmaker Ana Lily Amirpour. I haven’t been this excited by a debut indie since El Mariachi.
Like El Mariachi, A Girl (as I will call it here) seems to have been made with a budget of loose change found behind the couch cushions. It’s filmed in glorious black and white. It references many genres, films, and styles while still always being completely singular. There is also a haunting soundtrack including Farsi music, and visual touches best not spoiled by gobsmacked reviewers.
The setting is Bad City – a strange, sparsely populated no man’s land. Its residents include one very photogenic cat, one child, one James Dean type young man, one evil pimp and a few assorted others, including of course the mysterious “girl” of the title, who is no girl at all. There appears to be only one car on the road. That belongs to Arash, who lives with his good-for-nothing junkie dad and the aforementioned cat. Where is Bad City exactly? Somewhere in the Twilight Zone maybe. The movie was filmed in what looks like a suburban ghost town in California – maybe some place where they foreclosed on everyone. The people speak Farsi and the women (and a transvestite hooker) wear headscarfs. But make no mistake about it, Bad City, is an outpost, a no-man’s land, a town full of losers and misfits, and the question that has to be asked is – Given that Arash has a car, why doesn’t he get the hell out of Dodge?
In terms of the vampy stuff, what does this ad to the genre? The girl is definitely not the Buffyverse version of a soulless vamp. Nor is she an overly sexualized exotic. The “girl” is a sympathetic character. She is empowered. We don’t learn much about vamp culture, except that like the heros and outlaws in westerns, they are loners.
I will not attempt to “analyze” this film or tell you its message or theme. I will just tell you to see it.
Where? How? That’s the question. It’s in limited release. This link will be helpful. Here is a trailer:
(In case you stumbled over, this is the website for Blood Diva – a vampy novel that you might also enjoy.)