Image from the cover of AGWHAAN OST CD
World cinema is fun! And this week is definitely no exception, although sometimes the fun gets a little bogged down in different emotions, such as pity, rage, despair, hope and triumph.
My choice this week and I’m feeling pretty good about it. Incidentally, this film has been on my list for a while but became more pressing when I read this review. I mean, any review that talks about fuck boys is always going to be alright with me.
But to my own thoughts.
A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night (2014)
Director: Ana Lily Amirpour (who also wrote the film)
Stars: Sheila Vand, Arash Marandi, Marshall Manesh
IMDB Synopsis: In the Iranian ghost-town Bad City, a place that reeks of death and loneliness, the townspeople are unaware they are being stalked by a lonesome vampire.
I’m kind of sad that the synopsis of this film and also the original film poster mentions that this is a Vampire movie. I mean, it’s not a shock when this is revealed, but I think it might have been a nice touch to go in not really knowing much about The Girl. Not that we know anything, mind, beyond her penchant for thick black eyeliner (my kind of girl), lipstick and Breton stripes.
Rebel with a Cause, we just don’t know what yet
Anyway, that’s a minor thing. We begin the film gazing at James Dean-alike Arash as he leans against a fence, slowly smoking a cigarette. For the uninitiated, I am a massive sucker for this aesthetic on men or women, shoot it in black and white and I’m yours forever.
Arash is standing around and I can’t be sure of his motivation, though he does either steal or rescue a cat and walks off into the next scene with it slung happily over his shoulder. I don’t blame you cat.
Next stop is Arash’s home, where an old man sits in a grubby front room area and injects something into his toes. He doesn’t look like your average junkie so there might be a rational explanation for this but when The King of the Fuck Boys* (presumably) walks in, we are illuminated to just how bad the old man’s condition is. He’s also Arash’s father and owes Saeed (Fuck Boy) a lot of money.
Saeed plays threateningly with the cat for a bit then makes a speech about how Hossein is just a ‘normal man’ who needs ‘medicine’ to get through life. Riiiiight. Then he takes Arash’s car which is his pride and joy and Arash punches a wall.
Alas, this is life and Arash must keep on swimming so off he goes to his landscaping job. He’s called indoors to tune in the TV by the attractive daughter of his employers and under the guise of being gentlemanly, he ushers her out of her bedroom (because being alone would be inappropriate). Really, he’s clocked a nice pair of diamond earrings that might just get him his car back…
Meanwhile, Saeed meets with The Princess, a beautiful prostitute called Shaydah (Rome Shadanloo) and surprisingly, doesn’t treat her very nicely. He also rips her off for her cut of earnings like a true pig. While being a dick in Arash’s car, he spots something out of the corner of his eye and freaks out, even though he doesn’t know what it was. We know though, we know it good, it’s a figure in a hajib and it looks kind of serious.
Dance like nobody’s watching
We follow the figure and it leads us down into a basement room where a fucking cool girl is dancing. I mean there are few things I love better than black kohl eyeliner (yes, even at the advanced age of 37) and this chick rocks it. She’s effortlessly cool and at first glance I already know she’s going to be one of my favourite movie heroines in recent years.
Fuck the no make-up look. Fuck it all to Hell
It will also become clear soon that this is our mystery figure and I like this scene because she’s painted as a normal person with normal interests, like music, fashion and pop culture. I also like that we get to witness The Girl making up her face. Now I’m quite sure most women would identify with the ritual of meticulously applying the warpaint before going out to do business, be that an ordinary day at the office, a date or vigilante justice.
Walking back to his apartment later on, Saeed bumps into The Girl. First of all there is a face off and we can’t be sure where it’s going to go but Saeed does what most men do when faced with a female in almost any situation, assumes she wants sex. So she goes home with him under the illusion he’s about to get some.
Things don’t quite pan out the way Saeed planned and I’m not going to go into the ins and out. This film is very much worth a viewing of your own but let’s just say we now have an idea of what The Girl is and how she rolls.
In the aftermath of Saeed’s meeting with The Girl, Arash gets his car back, plus a case full of drugs and cash. Which is helpful. The Princess, meanwhile, is being hassled by Hossein, who seems to have a soft spot for the ladies as well as H. Oh, and don’t think The Girl hasn’t noticed Hossein’s behaviour, because she totally has.
Why did the Vampire cross the road? To fuck up the dude on the other side… obvs
It’s a shame Hossein is such a dick nose, because Arash is actually not a bad guy, despite appearances. This isn’t immediately apparent when he’s selling X in da club to rich kids but he is. Honest. He also crashes and burns with the rich daughter from earlier on, who rejects his advances.
On the way home, Arash meets The Girl for himself and is so charming in his drugged up state that he seems to throw her intentions completely. I mean, I expected her to eat him there and then. What follows is a scene so heart wrenchingly beautiful that I’m not even going to talk about it.
Courting, Vamp style
The Girl has also commandeered a skateboard from a future fuck boy (not after she’s finished with him though), and there’s a shot of her skating down the street with her hajib flowing out behind her that blew my tiny mind.
I might leave the rest up to you now, to be honest but along the way Arash and The Girl form a stronger bond; The Princess meets The Girl and TG inevitably ends up dishing out more nuggets of vigilante goodness, which may or may not send the course of Arash’s life crashing in a completely unexpected direction.
You’re interested though, aren’t you?
“We’re all going on a… Summer holiday…”
To the questions section! Because no review of mine is complete without a series of wills/wheres/hows and whys, amiright?
So… Will TG and Arash live happily ever after? Will Hossein sort himself out for his son’s sake? Will anyone ever truly appreciate that poor damned cat? How did The Girl even become a vampire?
Should I buy myself a new Breton top because it’s such a chic, crisp look? Also, should I get a long-board? Some of these questions will be answered, some will be left open to your own interpretation and some simply don’t matter in the grand scheme of things. Enjoy!
My Thoughts: This film is the nuts. Written and directed by a woman, which shouldn’t be a thing of note in this day and age, but still totally is, it’s a feminist piece, in that all bad men get what for. Even the young lad skirting around a future in douche baggery is handed his arse. The title is great, A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night – think about it, have you ever walked home from the pub on a Friday night and feared for your personal safety? Of course you have and that’s what The Girl is, she’s the saviour that cleans the streets so you don’t have to feel that way. Brilliant, non? It’s poetic, inspiring and I fucking loved it.
Yes, I can be very generous when it comes to rating the films I watch, sometimes for the flimsiest reasons (like I love Simon Pegg) but honestly, this is a true work of art. It has been very well received because it’s beautifully filmed, fantastically acted and it’s lack of gratuitous violence and gore is a massive plus, if you ask me (even though I love that shit). It could be the B&W aesthetic that lends it the subtlety. Whatever it is, it works like a (bad) dream.
There are several stand out scenes that will stay with me for a long time – two of which I have mentioned above. I also like the main characters and love that even the good guy is flawed. They’re both good at heart but capable of terrible behaviour and the final act, which I shan’t spoil for you, is extremely hopeful and romantic.
Can we just quickly talk about the cat? She’s a terrible actor, staring out of shot at the action going on behind the scenes, almost derailing the whole film. At one point I swear she strains her neck to sniff at the boom engineer or something. Go back to acting school, cat!
My Rating: 5/5 – an absolute must see.
I wonder what Jill thinks of this one? Let’s go see shall we?!
*I’m going to stop saying fuck boy now.