A young man and a soft-spoken vampire girl find love in the depraved Bad City in A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night. Spoken in Persian with subtitles, based on the short of the same name. (logline)
We first see a young, handsome man named Arash carrying his cat through the unpaved streets of Bad City. The opening music is catchy, refined, and cool, almost like Arash. But this place is desolate, and suddenly the song slows down like a record on a broken turntable as he walks past a small valley full of dead bodies. This opening image is a proper introduction to Bad City, which is laden with lost souls, one of which is a vampire.
The “souls” of Bad City are somewhat nameless. With the exception of first names, some key characters are credited as such: Hossein “the junkie,” Saeed “the pimp,” Atti “the prostitute,” and the Girl. And as it turns out, Arash is anything but “cool:” feeling obligated to care for his junkie father, who’s in debt to Saeed “the pimp”, Arash is lonely and depressed. He feels trapped in a place full of drug addicts, drug dealers, prostitutes, and all-around lifeless meat puppets. But perhaps there is a cure for the decadence and for his lonely heart. A vampire girl—who often walks home alone at night—stalks and kills unsuspecting men for violent acts against women. We see Arash’s life immediately improve when the Girl kills Saeed, and Arash even grows romantically attached to the Girl. Though such deeds plague her, she finds solace in her room full of posters ranging from Michael Jackson to Chris Rock and in her vinyl collection—most of which seems like American music from the 1980s.
Amirpour fully embraces western culture. In addition to the Girl’s posters and her love for American music, sometimes the score is reminiscent of those from old spaghetti westerns. Such references are part of Amirpour’s overall web of social commentary: the banal, overbearing oil refineries and the grating drills which make Bad City a barren place are direct parallels to Iran’s own oil industry. The rich references to American culture deal directly with the tumultuous and delicate relationship between the U.S. and Iran. Iran indeed has a large oil industry, but Iran has few allies overall in the global community. As we see, the lost souls of Bad City are not exactly thriving from the oil industry or isolation—the girl often revels in American music (she names Lionel Ritchie’s “Hello, Hello” as a favorite song) as a way to feel “alive.”
With stark black and white cinematography, low lighting, and an eclectic soundtrack, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is an expressionistic, moody story, but it’s less about story and more about the shared experiences of loneliness, desperation, addiction, and love.
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