Let's Talk Film! A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night (2014)

Let's Talk Film! A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night (2014)

A review on a feminist vampire, spaghetti western, Iranian noir film. Yeah. You read right.
736
views

Welcome to Films You Haven't Seen but Should, film reviews dedicated to the unexpected film gems out there. These reviews will work in themes, meaning that with each theme there will be an article dedicated to a film that fits within the theme. Everyone with me? Yay!


(PSA: There are NO SPOILERS in this review! Read with ease!)

Our very first theme is: Female Filmmakers. Gracing us with the first film to review and analyze is Iranian filmmaker Ana Lily Amirpour with her incredible, haunting western/vampire feminist film, A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night (Amirpour, 2014) (available on Netflix).

This film follows a veiled vampire, The Girl (Sheila Vand), riding through the streets of Bad City, preying on men who objectify women. In this bold feminist film, Amirpour turns stereotypes of female security and safety on their heads as now the man must be afraid to walk home alone at night. The title leads us to believe that violence is waiting for the girl who walks home alone at night, but in actuality, it is the man who must fear for his safety. This is the initial irony of the film, but there are many more to come. The Girl meets an interesting character, a troubled James Dean-esque boy named Arash (Arash Marandi), who crosses paths with the justice-driven vampire.

The most obviously striking elements about this film are the setting and color, or rather, lack of color. Amirpour decides to pay homage to the past of spaghetti westerns while enhancing the spine-tingling ominous presence of night and shadows as she presents her film in heavily contrasted black and white. This immerses the audience in a delirious reality, one devoid of comprehension or a broad perspective. What we see is a frightening, and limited scope.

Amirpour inserts an initial irony through the contrast between the color and setting. This story takes place in a dystopian city called “Bad City”, which was actually filmed in California.

The palm trees, the elegant, suburban housing complexes, and the classic convertibles are all things the audience will most likely understand or recognize. However, these recognizable elements are filtered through black and white, shrouded in shadow and flooded with fluorescent light. The lack of color separates the audience from the setting, which is ironic, because for the majority of the American audience, the Californian setting in one of the most recognizable and understood settings in film. Not only this, but the film is in Farsi, which establishes another extreme or irony, and further distances the audience from the film’s reality. Just when we think we can fully connect to the characters, or to the story, there something that isolates us. Our isolation is meant to reflect the fear and confusion the characters feel in this film, and it does.

Another irony is found in the conflicted realities: the realities espoused by the men, and the reality presented by The Girl. In one of the very first shots, Arash’s (Marandi) father Hossein (Marshall Maneesh) shoots up heroin while the TV plays in the background. The man on the screen is warning all the women watching that while their good fortune of finding a husband is commendable, their fortunes may turn and their husbands leave them for younger women. These things, the man on the screen tells us, happen. I wonder if the man on the screen would say these things if he knew a man-eating, female vampire lurked the streets of Bad City.

The meeting between Arash (Marandi) and The Girl (Vand) is almost humorous in its

irony because Arash is wearing a Dracula costume. He looks at The Girl and says, “I’m Dracula. Don’t worry, I won’t hurt you.” Oh, Arash, if you only knew you were talking to an actual vampire.

The two perspectives, and subsequently, two realities play against one another: the male perspective against The Girl’s perspective. This film challenges the status quo, and represents the male perspective in deep falsehood and archaic patriarchy. The Girl (Vand) holds the true voice. She reflects Truth in this film with every encounter she has with a character.

The Girl’s (Vand) power is represented through the cinematography, as it not only empowers The Girl (Vand), but also the audience. It is important to understand that we are not uncomfortable voyeurs in this film, but we are the lurking vampire. While we gaze into a scene through circular windows of a convertible,

limiting our view by the confines of that window, and blinded by the glares of light that pierce the shot, we are invited, not only to follow the characters, but also to stalk them. The camera hovers right over the shoulder of a character. When the character senses a presence, they spin around. Who do they find? The Girl.

The vampire is waiting, stalking, watching. The camera also waits, stalks and watches. Thus the camera, and by extension, the audience is the vampire, and the predator.

Amirpour’s feminism speaks volumes here, as the female in the narrative does not distract the male lead or the audience by her erotic beauty, but guides the very fabric of the story we follow. She does not strike eroticism in the hearts of the male characters, or the audience, but fear.

I hope this next tidbit of information does not disappoint, but this film is not a fast-paced thriller. On the contrary, it is a slow pause. The pacing of the film is like a close-up on somebody’s mouth slowly releasing a stale breath, breath that was held in for too long. It is intimate in its quiet. In this way, Amirpour ironically works against the genre expectations the audience has and presents a uniquely calm, and intimate rendition.

The pacing of this film is not unlike the film Stranger than Paradise by Jim Jarmusch.

In fact, the use of black and white, slow pace, irony and isolated relationships create a nice comparison between these two films.

Another comment on the cinematography and camerawork in this film is how smooth it is. The camera glides just as effortlessly as The Girl does. Amirpour captures the unexpected, as she fills entire shots with minute moments, such as stirring sugar into tea, or shears trimming a bush. By doing so, Amirpour quietly drops scenes like pieces of evidence for the audience, imploring us to put them together and make sense of them.

The motionless calm is noticed when The Girl (Vand) takes Arash (Marandi) back to her home. Their meeting is electric in the silence and opportunity for violence as The Girl (Vand) tilts Arash’s (Marandi) head back and gazes at his supple neck.

His life is available for her to take, in one fell swoop. Whether she takes his life or not, I won’t say. That’s for you to find out.

Amirpour’s film is a spaghetti western, feminist vampire film written and performed in Farsi, based in California. It is an incredibly stylized, silent political commentary that depicts the crossroads of Iranian culture from the traditional to the modern through extreme ironies. The Girl is not a villain, and neither is she the hero, but she is our mirror. She mirrors the character’s movements in the film, and meets one horror with another, their horror with a horror of her own. This film looks the audience dead in the eye and says, “What? What are you looking at me for? I was only copying you.” It is as if the film is saying the greatest horrors are the ones hidden deep within us, the ones we have already committed ourselves.


Cover Image Credit: IMDB

Popular Right Now

I'm The Girl Without A 'Friend Group'

And here's why I'm OK with it

883616
views

Little things remind me all the time.

For example, I'll be sitting in the lounge with the people on my floor, just talking about how everyone's days went. Someone will turn to someone else and ask something along the lines of, "When are we going to so-and-so's place tonight?" Sometimes it'll even be, "Are you ready to go to so-and-so's place now? Okay, we'll see you later, Taylor!"

It's little things like that, little things that remind me I don't have a "friend group." And it's been like that forever. I don't have the same people to keep me company 24 hours of the day, the same people to do absolutely everything with, and the same people to cling to like glue. I don't have a whole cast of characters to entertain me and care for me and support me. Sometimes, especially when it feels obvious to me, not having a "friend group" makes me feel like a waste of space. If I don't have more friends than I can count, what's the point in trying to make friends at all?

I can tell you that there is a point. As a matter of fact, just because I don't have a close-knit clique doesn't mean I don't have any friends. The friends I have come from all different walks of life, some are from my town back home and some are from across the country. I've known some of my friends for years, and others I've only known for a few months. It doesn't really matter where they come from, though. What matters is that the friends I have all entertain me, care for me, and support me. Just because I'm not in that "friend group" with all of them together doesn't mean that we can't be friends to each other.

Still, I hate avoiding sticking myself in a box, and I'm not afraid to seek out friendships. I've noticed that a lot of the people I see who consider themselves to be in a "friend group" don't really venture outside the pack very often. I've never had a pack to venture outside of, so I don't mind reaching out to new people whenever.

I'm not going to lie, when I hear people talking about all the fun they're going to have with their "friend group" over the weekend, part of me wishes I could be included in something like that. I do sometimes want to have the personality type that allows me to mesh perfectly into a clique. I couldn't tell you what it is about me, but there is some part of me that just happens to function better one-on-one with people.

I hated it all my life up until very recently, and that's because I've finally learned that not having a "friend group" is never going to be the same as not having friends.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who Float Between Friend Groups

Cover Image Credit: wordpress.com

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

5 Best Quotes By Kate Chopin

"The voice of the sea is seductive, never ceasing, whispering, clamoring, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander in abysses of solitude."

26
views

Rising to prominence during the Progressive Era—a time in America where women were often discouraged to read and write, or disengage with literature of any form due to the asinine, yet widely accepted sentiment that words on a page would drive the female conscience insane -- Kate Chopin is widely hailed by historians and scholars as one of the most iconic forerunners of the feminist movement that came to the dominate the early 20th century through her short stories and novels that have been on the receiving end of timeless praise.

Although she did not receive any accolades for her works, nor as much recognition in comparison to better known female authors during her time such as Edith Wharton -- who became the first female novelist to win The Pulitzer Prize -- Kate Chopin's legacy endured to serve as a rallying cry, and inspiration for several female contemporaries who to, have now ascended to their rightful places among the highest echelons of American Literature. Names that include Zelda Fitzgerald (wife to famed novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald), Gertrude Stein, and Willa Cather to name just a few.

Here are five of the best lines delivered through the words of one alone, which came to be the words of many:

1. "She wanted something to happen - something, anything: she did not know what."

We all dream of being something, of going somewhere. But often it lies beyond the reach of words, as an imagination uncapsulated by a camera or a picture frame. As a place we have not been, cannot go, and will never be.

2. "Perhaps it is better to wake up after all, even to suffer, rather than to remain a dupe to illusion's all one's life."

To keep it real is to keep it painful. But through all the falls, the bruises, the scrapes, and the tears, there may linger at the end if for a moment, only for a moment, a painlessness many have conned themselves into believing it will last forever.

3. "The voice of the sea is seductive, never ceasing, whispering, clamouring, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander in abysses of solitude."

The sea, the water which covers crevices, valleys, and deeps yet unseen and unperceived is a place of much wonder and much fear that roars beneath the crash of its waves against one another, and the rocks that await upon the shore. But through the beat of its torrential drum, it remains a place for the solemn, and the alone. A place for those to wonder as they wander alone in their solemnity.

4. "She was becoming herself and daily casting aside that fictitious self which we assume like a garment with which to appear before the world."

To grow up is to shed the cocoon woven from expectations others expect of us to confine us, and to emerge, and ascend towards expectations we have set for ourselves.

"... but whatever came, she had resolved never again to belong to another than herself."

As we embark on the travail that is life, there may come times where many will tell us we belong to something, or nothing. But as such despairing words calmer against our eardrums, seaking to breakthrough to invade, to infest our psyche, we will always belong to ourselves.

Forever a voice of empowerment as she was then, Kate Chopin reminds us -- through her novels and short stories that have been but a glimpse of her enduring resilience and courage -- that regardless of what or who we are, and where we come from and where we seek to go, we always belong somewhere.

A place that lies beyond many seas of many seductive whispers and whispers. A place where awaits to embrace us -- one none other than ourselves. Enveloping us in our arms like currents which surround us as we descend, and then arise in place where we may wander in solitude.

Related Content

Facebook Comments