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Sheila Vand

Videophiled: ‘A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night’

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (Kino Lorber, Blu-ray, DVD, Netflix), written and directed by California-based and Iranian-born filmmaker Ana Lily Amirpour, is a genre film with a fresh approach and a distinctive cultural texture: a vampire movie from a female director who stirs American movie references into her stylized Iranian street drama.

The Girl (as she is identified in the credits), played by Sheila Vand (Argo), walks the streets (and at one point rides a skateboard) of the ominously-named Bad City in a chador, but underneath wears a striped blouse that could have been borrowed from Jean Seberg in Breathless and her basement room is adorned in pop music posters. Arash (Arash Marandi), the son of a heroin addict father in debt to a drug-dealing pimp, seems to model himself on James Dean, right down to the white T-shirt, black leather jacket and blue jeans. (The pimp, meanwhile, who fashions himself an East LA gangbanger.) Of course they cross paths and The Girl, who exercises a measure of morality in choosing her meals, allows him to woo her. Why not? They’ve both already robbed the same gangster (she took jewelry and his CDs, he grabbed the cash and the drugs).

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Film Review: ‘A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night’

Sheila Vand

It sounds like something that fell from a branch of the Tarantino tree: Surely a movie promoting itself as an Iranian vampire/spaghetti-Western indie featuring a skateboarding undead heroine must be doing its thing with tongue firmly in cheek. But hang on, because A Girl Walks Home is not too interested in genre spoofery. This debut feature by Ana Lily Amirpour (who grew up in Bakersfield of Iranian ancestry) is a very studied mood piece, dryly humorous and more inclined toward the arthouse than the drive-in. There will be blood—and it will be sucked—but Amirpour has more on her mind than horror.

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