If the title has not provided a clue, let me spell it out, I adore this film. Written and directed by Ana Lily Amirpour with a cast that trounces their respective roles, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is a study in black and white brilliance. The decision to make this a monochrome production was bold and fitting for an urban myth story set in an Iranian town, called Bad City.
Apparently life in the petroleum pump filled burg is cheap, or at least not valued too greatly as there seems to be a wash, or gully, on the edge of town filled with dead bodies. One wonders whether or not the stiff “cadavers” piled deep are not mannequins until later when the local “master” criminal is killed and his body dragged to the local “pit” and dropped in.
The film begins with a young man, Arash (played by relative newcomer Arash Marandi) who collects a large cat from an abandoned building. After a young boy begs him for money he gets in his prized car, that he bought after performing well over 2,000 odd jobs, and goes home to his heroin addicted father. A visit from the Jack-of-all-trades crime lord Saeed (This guy is Bad City’s Godfather of naughtiness; pimp, drug pusher and an all round nasty bit of work.)
As Arash’s father, Hossein owes Saeed money, he takes the son’s car keys and vehicle in payment. While the one man crime wave is collecting money from his hooker, he sees a cloaked figure in the dark. He keeps all the money given and knocks Atti, his prostitute, out of Arash’s car. He later talks to the hooded figure, who turns out to be a beautiful girl, and entices her to come into his home.
The film really begins its first twist in this scene and continues to shift in mood, purpose and destination throughout. Set in Iran, but filmed in Bakersfield and Taft, California, Amirpour has delivered a feature length treatment of her original short 2011 film of the same title.
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is clever, stylish, funny, thoughtful, eerie and impressive as hell. I dare anyone who loves film to watch this and not get totally swept up in its imagery and delivery. Sheila Vand, who plays “The Girl” will captivate the viewer with an aura that makes her both alluring and vulnerable.
There is a scene with the actress where she comes in possession of a skateboard. This incident in the film begins on a scary note which suddenly shifts moods. All of the actresses chosen for the three main roles, Rome Shandaloo and Mozhan Marnò and of course Vand, are beautiful women who are impressive actors and not just “pretty faces.”
The lighting for this black and white masterpiece is spot on, with scenes set up by utilizing a delicate balance between light and shadow. The decision to have things go very dark at emotional turning points is a brave one that works extremely well.
Arash Marandi is the male equivalent to Vand’s “Girl” and he is another actor for audiences to keep an eye on. This young man will most assuredly become a star with an appeal not seen since Omar Shariff made people swoon, “back in the day.”
Fans of world cinema will adore this quirky tale, filmed in Persian with subtitles. For those who are not fans of having to read the dialogue at the bottom of the screen, you are missing a brilliant film. It is streaming on Netflix at the moment and well worth the 100 minutes spent watching it.
5 out of 5 stars.
20 May 2015