A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night

December 7, 2014 at 6:17 pm | Posted in 2014 | 1 Comment
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This very indie but very beautiful Iranian film has a sort of haunting but uneasy familiarity. It took me a moment to put my finger on it but, about a half hour in, I realized it seems so familiar because, in some ways, it’s the strange love child of “Reality Bites” and “Wait Until Dark.” In fact, you might call it, “Reality Bites Hard in The Dark.” The aesthetic and cadence of this truly unique movie is equal parts Hitchcock and early 90s, with a dose of the recent Jarmusch vampire film, “Only Lover’s Left Alive.” Filmed in Iran, in Persian with subtitles and in a gorgeous, haunting black and white, the movie is less story than evocative images, mostly of a young vampire girl stalking the night in her flowing black hijab. In those scenes, Ana Lily Amirpour (directing her first full length feature), is a master at creating old school creepiness. Her use of shadows and contrasts is stunning and reminds me of the old Hollywood masters. Yet, when “the girl” (as she is simply referred to in the credits) is in her apartment and removes her hijab, she transforms into a young would-be Winona Ryder. In fact, many of the young people, and the music, feel like they belong in early 90s America. There is something brilliant about comparing 90s Gen X detachment, modern Iranian youth culture and being a vampire. The film is a metaphor on many levels, both for being young in Iran today but, primarily, for being a woman in that society. There is an evocative scene that compares being a vampire with being a prostitute and the film is laced with a sense of menace against male exploitation. There is even a sly vagina dentata allusion early on. In fact, the film is slyly clever on many levels, being sometimes funny as well as creepy. Some viewers may be put off by the lack of a clear story arc; this is, in the end, more of a series of scenes, some more provocative than others. For me, that did not matter one whit. I was so completely taken by this strange hybrid of classic staging and cinematography along side a score and scenes of twenty-something yearning that looked like they came right out of 1992, overlaid on a modern Persian feminist work, that I scarcely needed a plot at all. This was truly one of the more interesting films of the year.



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