A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night

Kino Lorber/ Vice Films

Reviewed for Shockya by Tami Smith, Guest Reviewer.

Director: Ana Lily Amirpour

Screenwriter: Ana Lily Amirpour

Cast: Sheila Vand, Arash Marandi, Mozhan Marno, Dominic Rains, Marshall Manesh, Milad Eghbali and Masuka

Opens: November 21, 2014

Ana Lily Amirpour, wanted to direct and shoot a film that takes place in Iran, with Iranian actors, but did not want the hassle and the restrictions that so many Iranian directors before her faced. So what is a gal to do? She simply used an isolated California town as a stand-in for Bad City, Iran and picked some German and American Farsi speaking ex-pats. Based on her published graphic novel Death Is the Answer Amirpour wrote the screenplay for A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night.

The Girl (Sheila Vand) in question does walk home alone at night, but her walk is necessary since a blood-sucking vampire must eat too. The story takes place in in Bad City, an isolated Iranian town where the sun never shines and people stay indoors. Things are so dismal that even the town’s Prostitute (Mozhan Marno) may become unemployed and Masuka, the cat, hardly ever ventures out. The Passdar (morality police) is nowhere in sight, so we are not surprised to learn a thing or two about the residents. We meet Arash (Arash Marandi), a James Dean look alike who keeps himself busy driving a sports car, The Gambler (Marshall Manesh), Arash’s father who is in a need for a constant supply of “medicine” (must be heroin), The Pimp (Dominic Rains), who is collecting money from everybody else and snorts Cocaine at every possible chance and Little Boy (Milad Eghbali), a seven-year old child that likes skating in the isolate streets of Bad City.

Director Amirpour shot her creation in a first rate black and white photography that accentuates this bizarre plot. Most scenes are staged theatrically and include interactions between two characters. Dialog is kept to a minimum and actors recite their lines in a monotone-zombi voice. Since characters in this film are prostitutes, pimps, and drug addicts, a vampire has been added for a good measure.

Things change when Arash meets The Girl and becomes obsessed. “I have done some bad things” she says to him but Arash will have none of it. For their first date they agree to meet near a “romantic” industrial refinery, and Arash brings her a token of his adoration: a hamburger, since “all girls like hamburgers”. Will these lovebirds go together into the sunset? (or rather “moon-set”). This question was left unanswered, so I looked at Masuka for a clue. This cat is a highly photogenic performer and had no objection to many close-ups that accentuated his sparkling eyes. Every so often he seemed to be looking directly at us, pleading in a wordless language: Get me out of here, now!

 Unrated. 107 minutes.  © Tami Smith, Guest Reviewer

Story Grade:                          B-

Acting Grade:                        C+

Technical Grade:                  B+

Overall Grade:                       B


By Harvey Karten

Harvey Karten is the founder of the The New York Film Critics Online (NYFCO) an organization composed of Internet film critics based in New York City. The group meets once a year, in December, for voting on its annual NYFCO Awards.

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