Written by Day Moibi

Arts

Night Bites

Billed as a ‘vampire western’, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night has its fangs fastened firmly around noir-ish cool. Day Moibi falls under the hypnotic spell of its skateboarding heroine.

Sheila Vand applying eyeliner

There is something about vampires. Our attraction to them makes no sense really; it is a mixture of fear and lust, yet their appeal has not weakened over the years. There is an unexplainable magnetism behind the bloodthirsty cloaked figure that eternally haunts us.

Vampires have been present in cinema since the era of silent films. But the Twilight franchise brought them back to our big screens and created a swarm of teenage girls, ready to put their souls on the line to be with Robert Pattinson. Robert Pattinson did not want to drain your blood but instead love you, flaws and all; almost 200 years on earth had shown him that all he needed was my naive wisdom.

Yes, I fell for him too, but I know better now. I do not need a vampire in Ray-Ban glasses to save me, or any man for that matter – I can save myself!

Female vampires are not usually cool. Tilda Swinton changed that in 2013 with Only Lovers Left Alive, but before then the majority of female vampires had to be sexy. Ridiculous but true.

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is the breathtaking debut feature from Iranian-American writer-director Ana Lily Amirpour. Set in Bad City, a ghoulish industrial town of despair, it is a vampire western where a girl vampire, played to perfection by performance artist and actress Sheila Vand, roams the streets and glares expressively at the loneliness and hopelessness that pervades the lives of the inhabitants. On a night of feeding, she meets our hopelessly good-looking protagonist Arash (Arash Marandi), and a budding romance begins.

“Sheila Vand is constantly morphing before your eyes. In some scenes she is a rebellious youth locked at home with her vinyls; in another she is a bewitching heroine who skateboards through the night, with freedom in her eyes.”

Shot stylishly in black and white, it is more hypnotically beautiful than narrative. Teeming with pop iconography from the past, it is borderline pretentious. Yet the control and atmosphere that Amirpour presents give you the feeling that she is nothing less than the enigmatic spawn of David Lynch and Jim Jarmusch.

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night posterThe photography and cinematography are fresh and bold, with a mixture of Iranian culture and American style. Amirpour artfully creates a contemporary masterpiece that is not locked to genre, century or nation, but is instead a film with infinite imagination that expands the vampire myth and imitates the surreal and illusory dance of silent films.

Yet it was the full-on statement of girl power reigning throughout the film that hypnotised me. Vand is constantly morphing before your eyes. In some scenes she is a rebellious youth locked at home with her vinyls; in another she is a bewitching heroine who skateboards through the night, with freedom in her eyes.

In other parts she is a frightful being that lurks in the shadows, yet she is always defiantly charismatic and overwhelming in the most exotic way possible. With little to no words spoken she silently entrances, helped along by the darkly atmospheric music. Amirpour creates a cinematic experience in which every note and move expressively shows the desires of the characters.

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is just the beginning for Ana Lily Amirpour. When an artist refuses to be held down to anyone else’s vision but his or her own, art becomes alive. Amirpour proves just this.

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Written by Day Moibi

Day Moibi is an aspiring philosopher who spends most of her time thinking about cheese, the absurdities of life and film.