Wednesday, 27 January 2016

A girl walks home alone at night (4 Stars)

This film shows a side of Iran that we don't read about in the news: prostitution, drugs and vampires.

Arash is a hard-working young man who is struggling to take care of his father, who is addicted to heroin. The father gets deep into debt, as all drug addicts do, and the pimp takes Arash's new sports car as payment. When Arash visits the pimp to make a deal to get his car back he finds the pimp dead. He's been killed by a vampire. Arash robs the pimp's money and takes his car back.

Unknown to Arash, he was seen by the vampire, an unnamed beautiful young woman. At least, she looks young. She might be thousands of years old, as old as Persia itself. In the following days she secretly observes Arash. She kills a series of men, including Arash's father, but spares Arash himself.

This is a stylish, beautiful drama that reminds me of Jean Rollin's early films. It doesn't have a well-defined plot, relying on the atmosphere and imagery. In theory the film could have been set anywhere from eastern Russia to the heart of the USA, but the director Ana Lily Amirpour chose to connect it to her own heritage. She's an Iranian who was born in England, so she chose an industrial Iranian town as the setting and picked Iranian actors for this Persian language film.

This is Ana's first feature film, made on a shoestring budget, but it's impressed the film world so much that she's been given a big budget for her second film, "The Bad Batch", which should hit cinemas later this year. She's a role model for all Iranian women: intelligent, confident and successful.

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