The Film Rant: A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night
If it weren’t for the existence of Only Lovers Left Alive, I would call A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night the definitive ‘Jim Jarmusch vampire film’. He may not have directed the film (this was helmed by Iranian-born director Ana Lily Amirpour), but this first ever Iranian vampire film shares all the trademarks of his early work: stylish black-and-white, long still shots, only the faintest hint of a plot. While Jarmusch manages to create interesting characters and dialogue, however, A Girl Walks Home… has style and nothing else. At 100 minutes, style isn’t enough to keep this film afloat.
The plot, if you can call it that, revolves around two separate people; Arash (Arash Mandi), a hard worker whose prized car is taken by a drug dealer to pay off his Father’s drug debts, and The Girl (Sheila Vand), an icily detached vampire who wanders around Bad City, killing off local scumbags. The two are inevitably drawn to each other, although their relationship is barely featured and resembles nothing more than an afterthought for most of the film. Perhaps more time should have been spent crafting some sort of plot, for A Girl Walks Home… is, for most of its running time, a deeply dull film.
This may sound like a philistine’s comment, aimed towards ‘challenging’ art masterpieces (many people would describe The Tree of Life as boring, for example), but there is no other way to describe this film. The characters are flat, the dialogue’s unmemorable, and the longest scenes are among the most self-indulgent in recent memory. Director & writer Amirpour is clearly a fan of navel gazing. Perhaps if she’d spent more time gazing over the script and realising it needed a serious rewrite, the film could have been something really special.
Cinematographer Lyle Vincent deserves most of the praise for keeping the film together. Her monochrome visions of the sleazy Bad City are often beautiful, especially in his use of long, wide shots to show The Girl silently stalking her prey. Most of The Girl’s early scenes are effective, to the film’s credit, especially a disturbing encounter with a little boy that ranks as one of the great modern vampire sequences. If the film had attempted to update the vampire movie or at least add something interesting to the genre, it could have easily become a great film.
Instead, Amirpour seems content to wander around with these characters, never finding them anything interesting for them to do; The Girl is certainly an original vampire character, but after the initial thrill, she never reaches a real point of interest. Despite its gorgeous look and admittedly unusual style, A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night is too preoccupied with trying to be cool and indulging in over-long takes to be anything more than a tiresome arthouse affair.
By Harry Ford