A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night is a melancholy vampire film like no other. For a start it’s a genre mash-up of Iranian horror western and coming of age romance. Dressed in sneakers with a fascination for punk rock, the Girl of the film’s title doesn’t easily fit into any vampire stereotype and neither does Ana Lily Amirpour’s stylish debut film.
Her whole movie feels like a dreamscape. Gorgeous black-and-white cinematography makes mesmeric use of light and shadows. Girl sinks into the darkness or appears like a spectre against brilliant white street lights, stalking her victims from across the pavement like their own reflection.
Amirpour’s Iran is a product of imagination too. Of Iranian descent but born and raised in Los Angeles, the writer-director gives us a unique blend of two cultures. The film’s Bad City is rife with drugs and thriving nightclubs. Bodies lie in a ditch on the town’s outskirts. American influences are everywhere, from the James Dean inspired Arash (Arash Marandi), who becomes Girl’s bittersweet love interest, to the posters of Madonna on Girl’s bedroom wall.
Amirpour possesses a Tarentino style flair for music, blending Italian western, British punk and Iranian pop.
The image of a girl vampire, smoky eyes and dark lips, sweeping downhill on a skateboard with her black Iranian chandor flowing behind is not easily forgotten. But Amirpour’s Girl cannot be condensed into a simple feminist icon. She is both superhero and troubled soul: capturing the loneliness and difficulties of the human condition.
A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night is showing at Nottingham Broadway until Sunday, May 31.