Discover more from Movie Night
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
Skateboarding Iranian Vampire Time
In broad daylight, a man sneaks through a fence and snares a cat from just out of frame. Is it his cat? He reappears from the hole in the fence, and a song starts that strikes a tone you won’t expect as you begin to wonder what awaits you within the frames of the Iranian vampire film you’ve put on. Sinister french spaghetti western? Who can be sure?
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014) is shot strikingly in black and white; if you love noirs or loved Sin City (2005) but you’re not 15 anymore, the use of contrast and saturation will be very familiar to you. The film has a soundtrack that genuinely slaps. It would make Tarantino jealous. Maybe it has?
The man we meet in the first scene, Arash (Arash Mandi), drives a nice car but tells a local child asking for money that he doesn’t have any. “With a car like that?” the child asks. The man tells him he had to work 2,191 days to save up the money for the car. The young man returns home to find a drug dealer visiting his father. His father is using and owes the dealer. A difficult situation is created for Arash.
In short, we then witness a scene in which patriarchal values are weaponized to steal from a woman with money. We’re empathetic to this, but should we be? One of the many excellent questions the movie will send our way. In the next scene, the drug dealer has picked up a prostitute and, upon seeing her, asks her how old she is. The man learns she’s thirty, and he asks, “Aren’t you getting kind of old? Don’t you want to have kids?”
And then we meet the Girl. Playing loud electronic music, dancing in the poster-covered basement, applying dark lipstick, and all without a head covering. As her story brings her and Arash into each other’s path, the central burning question of the film keeps us glued to the screen: what will become of these two people? What kind of story are we watching? Horror, romance, comedy, drama, tragedy? It’s hard not to feel that this is the question Amirpour wants us to consider at every tense second, and perhaps this is a question that women consider every second when interacting with men.
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is especially effective for a western viewer, as we view men similarly to how we view them in the west. With various styles in which they dress, men are free to move around as they please and drive whatever cars they can afford. For a westerner, it would make the sudden appearance of a cloaked and head-scarfed woman potentially tense, as if a 16th-century vampire had appeared in the middle of modern New York City.
While this film is a masterful piece of art from 2014 regarding the tenuous situation for women in Iran, there is a tragic reality today. Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman, was killed in Iran on September 16th of this year. The morality police detained her for not covering her head entirely. While in their custody, the morality police killed her. If this is the first you’re hearing of this, you can catch up on the news coming out of Iran via Reuters here. I also recommend listening to the September 28th edition of The Daily. Over a hundred people have died in the unprecedented protests that have erupted in the wake of Masha Amini’s death.
Not only does this film matter more than ever today, it’s also provocative in all ways a great piece of art can be. A child being accosted by a vampire. Does he deserve what happens to him? A father who doesn’t take care of his son. An indictment of older generations? Is Arash, our male protagonist, a good person? How can society correct itself when it seems so far gone? From a distance, as the director was when she filmed this in California, it would seem that the good fight continues. As one character states, less optimistically, however, “Idiots and rich people are the only ones who think things can change.”
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
Written and Directed by Ana Lily Amirpour
Stray Thoughts from the Editor
And suddenly we’re in October. This month is dedicated to “Spooky Stuff.” That seems like an excellent broad way to stay on theme for Halloween but also include pretty much anything that seems like a good fit. Is this the month I recommend Don’t Look Up? The answer is no, but I do think it was better than most people thought. Also very spooky.
I’ve said it before, but I’ll repeat it: Get Kanopy and/or Hoopla on whatever device you use to imbibe media. With a library card, you’ll have access to thousands of titles you can’t find on Netflix, Amazon, or Disney. This week’s recommendation is among them!
I’m curious what the scariest movie you’ve ever seen is. Please let me know! For me, it’s Roger Rabbit. When Christopher Lloyd’s villain gets run over by a steamroller and gets back up: that scarred me as a child. One of my earliest memories is losing all child composure during that scene. I didn’t re-watch the movie until I was an adult. It was still jarring.
Happy spooky month, see you next week!
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