There’s some old-fashioned sleight-of-hand huckstering going on with this new Iranian flick A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night. What I saw in various places was “the first Iranian vampire movie”. But in other places I’m seeing “the first Iranian vampire western.” Big diff.
Although I see nothing of the Western in here.
There is boatloads of style in this beautifully shot black-and-white tale of a hapless guy who ends up on the wrong side of a loan shark/drug dealer’s attempt to collect a debt his heroin-addict father incurred, and then ends up the lucky recipient of said dealer’s wealth when a hungry girl vampire kills him.
This isn’t one of those vampire movies where the vampire only kills bad guys, though. We puzzled over it afterward and the only commonality between her victims were that they were all male.
Of course, as I’ve noted for other movies, some ideas that are popular in American culture have a lot more force in others. Whatever the state of women in America, for example, Persian women could tell them a thing or two about oppression. The problem being an American can’t always relate to the emotional impact they’re meant to have.
You know, so maybe it’s nothing in particular that she only kills men. And threatens boys. I dunno.
Anyway, it’s a sort of love story between our living hero and our undead heroine, though one quite obviously fraught with certain issues (that are never addressed). In the end, the hero comes to realize that she’s a murderer, but never that she’s a vampire. Or does he? I don’t know how he could have, really.
In the end, the three of us were split. The Boy did not care for it. It was too static and the characterization was weak. I can’t really argue with that, but I kind of liked it anyway. I felt there was enough characterization and motion in the plot to make it worthwhile, though no where at the level of, say, Let The Right One In.
The Flower? She loved it. She’s developed a strong sense of aesthetics and really enjoyed it on that level. Also, vampires are cool, and chick vampires doubly so, I’m sure.
The Girl is played by Sheila Vand (Argo, “State of Affairs”) sort of like a French noir heroine. The Boy is played by Arash Marandi. The Boy’s father is played by Marshall Manesh, whom The Flower recognized as playing a cab driver on “How I Met Your Mother” and who was also the doctor in The Big Lebowski, and who’s one of those guys in a ton of things. He gets to stretch his acting chops.
Mozhan Marno (The Stoning of Soraya M, “House of Cards”) plays a prostitute, while Dominic Rains (“General Hospital”) plays the thug. Rains and Manesh were in the short version of this film, made a few years ago with the future star of Shirin In Love.
You may notice that all these actors are in a lot of American shows and movies. Punchline: it’s not really an Iranian film. It’s an American film starring a bunch of Persians. Shot in California. Heh.
Which is cool. Especially because I kept thinking, “Man, Iran looks a lot like California.”