Thursday, December 11, 2014

A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT

My totally cool friend, Justine Browning, and I have reviewed movies together for Arise On Screen on cable's Arise TV.  For days, Justine kept urging me to see a new independent thriller -- a modern day vampire movie called A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night.

I really didn't want to go see another modern vampire story like a Twilight adventure.  I was tired of twinkie teen vampires who sparkled like they were dusted with disco glitter.  But I promised Justine I'd go.  She was positive it would appeal to my classic film-loving heart.  She was right.

I was a bit grumpy when I took a seat in the theater.  Then this black and white feature started.  A ruthless female vampire in Iran who wears sneakers, rides a skateboard and listens to Lionel Richie?  OK.  I was hooked.  The movie was fascinating.  This vampire was fascinating.  A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night is one of the most original fright movies I've seen in years.  The story takes place in a culturally arid and financially depressed Iranian city.  Loneliness and despair are in the air.  Death is present.                                          
I've heard that director/screenwriter Ana Lily Amirpour did not purposely set out to make a feminist film.  But I could not help but notice that the vampire's victims were abusive men in a society that treats women like second or third class citizens.
                                                        
                                                                         
If you liked this book --
...I think you will totally dig this low-budget, highly entertaining, smart movie.

This story works best in black and white.  The cinematography has a rich, striking, classic film look to it -- like the work of cinematographer Haskell Wexler whose credits include Mike Nichols' Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and Elia Kazan's America, America.  Both of those classics were filmed in black and white.  A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night was shot with the economy and compassion of a 1950s Italian film by De Sica or Fellini.

The screenplay is tight and witty.  Instead of trying to be hip and edgy, the visuals present a new look at what we've seen before.  She's a Middle Eastern woman whose burka doubles as her vampire's cape.  Brilliant.  This vampire is a terror.  She's done bad things.  But she's also lonely.  The movie gives us a the kind of imaginative "meet cute" that Ernst Lubitsch, Preston Sturges and Billy Wilder would've loved.  While walking the streets in search of a victim, she sees a gentle young man.  Having left a costume party, he's whacked out on Ecstasy and is standing on a sidewalk, staring up at a street light.
He's still in his party costume.  He speaks to her.  He's respectful.  He's kind.  He's dressed as Dracula and wearing a cape.  For her, it's love at first sight.  That's all I'm going to tell you about the story.  This is an odd couple that you captures your attention.  He's a sweet guy with some emotional distress in his home life.  He likes the mysterious girl he met one night and wants to see her again.  Will she reveal her real self?
Keep your eye on this filmmaker.  Her vampire thriller, A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, does not suck at all.  (Sorry about that.)  Was it shot in Iran?  No. Ms. Amirpour would've been artistically and politically restricted.  So she shot it in Bakersfield, California.  It was the perfect location.

Great work, Ana Lily Amirpour.  You wrote and directed one of the best female-focused vampire movies I've seen since Tony Scott's The Hunger in 1983.
If I ran a revival movie theater, I would put this fine on a double bill with the 1931 classic, Dracula, starring Bela Lugosi.

Seeing this famous old Hollywood horror feature adds to the appreciation and enjoyment of A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night.



3 comments:

  1. Great review. I'll have to seek this title out.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I saw this in a theater in Los Angeles, went in cold not having seen a trailer and was only vaguely aware of what it was about. I left thinking that this is the most beautiful, stylish and original film I've seen in forever.

    Marlene
    Skylanders Trap Team Review

    ReplyDelete
  3. I've heard great things about it too. Fellini and DeSica. Must see it now.

    ReplyDelete

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