A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
Every now and then, small indie movies conquer the world. These are the great moments in cinema, and one of those is Ana Lily Amirpour’s A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night,which is already available on home video, but just launched theatrically in Germany. We were at a Berlin screening, which was joined by the male lead Arash Marandi. Is it an exile-Iranian Pulp Fiction, a James Dean homage with vampires, or just a refreshingly beautiful first movie of a really talented director?
Without giving too much away, Arash (played by new comer Arash Marandi from Hamburg, Germany) lives in Bad City, a run down city with nothing much but an oil refinery. From the fruits of lots of work, he had bought a vintage car, complementing his rockabilly appearance including leather jacket and James Dean sneakers. He picks up a stray cat and drives home to his drug addict dad (played by Marshall Manesh, best known as the limo driver in How I Met Your Mother) who is behind paying back his dealer Saeed (Dominic Rice, who already starred in Amirpour’s short film of the same title), who straight up takes Arash’s car as ‘deposit’. However, while Saeed ist trying to have a good time with the hooker Atti (Moshan Marno, currently on the screen as a journalist in House of Cards), he sees a strange figure in the rear view mirror. Later this figure, a pretty young girl in a black chador (played by Sheila Vandt, among other things appeared in Argo) crosses his path again, so he picks her up and takes her to his pad. Bad luck for him, as she isn’t after his drugs, but the red stuff flowing through his veins…. and that’s all I want to give away from the plot at this point.
It’s a shame it too so long for the movie to come out in Europe. It’s been out in the States for some time, but I don’t remember reading much about it, so maybe it will receive a second consideration by lots of folks on BluRay and Netflix or whatever. From production start in 2012 to its German theatrical release in 2015, that is quote some time, but now it is all the better to finally having seen it. As Arash Marandi told us in the audience, the movie has a turbulent genesis. There was an IndieGogo campaign that raised about 60 grand, and then Elija Wood’s company picked up the movie and it really got going. The movie might be in Persian, but it was shot in Californa, by the daughter of Iranian expats who was born in England. It is an exciting, multicultural project, finally open to the world to see.
Amirpour’s movie is not a blockbuster with action excitement or revolution. It is not a Pulp Fiction neither. But A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night works in its own subtle way like a cold shower. For once there is the beautiful black and white photography, playing expertly with focus, with light and shade. It puts the scenery in an even more sinister perspective, it reminds me of Touch of Evil by Orson Welles. Yet you can’t but notice the movie’s influences clearly. Amirpour is inspired by David Lynch,by Quentin Tarantino, and Sergio Leone (plus Arash Marandi is quite the James Dean but I already mentioned that). The latter is especially interesting, as the movie boasts a lot of Spaghetti Western type music and long takes as well as stylish close ups. The acting is stellar and the movie is executive with lots of attention to detail, cineasts will dig it. It is a somewhat quirky movie. Fresh and funny, but also calm and artsy. It is not a horror movie at all, but it is a vampire movie – to some extent.
Now I am at a loss for words, but I just want to emphasize that I really want to recommend this movie. It is wonderfully refreshing to experience this type of cinema in its own special way and I am excited to see more by this promising young filmmaker.