Monday, 29 June 2015

Review: A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night

World of Blackout Film Review

A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night Poster

A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night
Cert: 15 / 101 mins / Dir. Ana Lily Amirpour / Trailer
WoB Rating: 6/7

Now this is what Summer cinema is all about; spending Saturday afternoon watching a black-and-white, subtitled Iranian film about a skateboarding girl vampire who listens to Lionel Richie! Fuck, yeah! I know that sounds flippant and/or sarcastic, but it's actually not.
A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night is fantastic.

Self-billed as "the first Iranian vampire Western", the inhabitants of a borderline ghost-town, Bad City, are being stalked by a bloodsucker with a taste for wrongdoers, and there are plenty of options on her menu. AGWHAaN*1 is absolutely mesmerising. The film may be subtitled, but it would work equally as a silent-movie with its impeccable visual storytelling. It's loaded with metaphor (visual and narrative), and cinematographer Lyle Vincent's use of mirrors is intriguing; you never see the camera in them*2, but you do see the vampire. If I was an arty-farty film student, I'd say the suggestion is that it's the viewer who is the real parasite, voyeuristically leeching on the close-range troubles of the town's melancholic population. But I'm not an arty-farty film student, so I'll probably keep that chin-stroking thought to myself. Oh.

Crucially, although this is about a vampire, it's predominantly an arthouse flick, yet you can rest assured that the feeding-aspect of the vampire mythos remains traditional, and the ferocity is there when it's required (there's also a delightful nod to Stephen Rea's 'buffoon' sequence in Interview With The Vampire). Whereas the modus operandi for tension-building in most modern horror films seems to be the 'quiet…quiet…LOUDCLOSEUP' approach, AGWHAaN rises above such parlour tricks by having an unblinking camera coupled with a star, Sheila Vand, who can be so inherently unnerving that even her more innocuous scenes feel like playing Buckaroo! when you've got the mule loaded with syringes…

I'd already watched one Western on this day, as well as a film about psychotic, predatory females. A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night towers above both. It's an outstanding film.

You possibly won't enjoy it, but it's outstanding.

Is this film worth paying £10+ to see?
If you think it's for you, then yes.

Well, I don't like the cinema. Buy it, rent it, or wait for it to be on telly?
If it is for you then it'll be a buy-er.

Does this film represent the best work of the leading performer(s)?
I can't really say (for fairly obvious reasons), but it's certainly amazing work from everyone involved.

Does the film achieve what it sets out to do?
It does, indeed.

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?
For all my gushing, no I won't.

Oh, and is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
There isn't.

…but what's the Star Wars connection?
AGWHAaN stars Dominic Rains as a psychotic pimp/dealer, who appeared in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, as did Sam 'Windu' Jackson.

You thought the chain to the GFFA was going to be far longer for this movie, didn't you?
Yeah, I did as well.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

*1 That's what all the cool kids are calling it. They told me.
*2 You're not meant to see the camera's reflection in any film of course, but this has straight-on shots of mirrors as well as the more commonplace angled ones.

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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