Review: A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
While walking home alone at night, or hopefully, while walking to the theatre to go see this amazing film, you might want to know what this film is really about. Is about Vampires? Feminism? The Hijab? Skateboarding? Cats?
These are all acceptable interpretations, but honestly, Ana Lily Aminpour’s A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night may go beyond a grand organizing device, and become simply different things to different people. In that spirit, it is only possible to reveal what A Girl Walks Home At Night means to this reviewer. If you have a different reading of the film, then Aminpour should be commended on allowing her film to be open to completely subjective interpretations.
Though the film premiered at Sundance a year ago, it plays extremely well with two films that opened recently: Inherent Vice and The Gambler, the trio are films about the outskirts of Southern California, about the angles and the back corners, and the parts that are not on the tour given as a part of the Maps to the Stars. Yes, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is set in Bad City, which could just as easily be Iran, or, quite frankly, anywhere. The point is that AGWHAaT is not afraid to explore the unexplored. And while The Gambler saw our tour guide being a skinny Mark Wahlberg, and Inherent Vice, a stoned out of his mind Joaquin Phoenix, here The Girl, (performance artist Sheila Vand), could just easily be ‘a girl’ aside from the fact that she uses her coquettishness and shyness to lure in her victims, if anything, they attack her first.
The tone is said to be Western, but the dress of The Girl’s accomplice Arash (Arash Marandi) seems almost to more Rockabilly in appearance, with his black jacket, white t-shirts and poufy hair, suggesting that the film could be even seen as more southern in nature, or perhaps to reinforce the idea that Dark City is both every place and no place, yet one populated by many Iranians, including Marshall Manesh, (Ranjit, from How I Met Your Mother), as a vision from the past, Hossein, the fallen gunslinger.
But let’s talk about how cool the black and white style of the film gives the film an “out of time” element and how the soundtrack is Western influenced, (in both senses), but has a rhythm all of its own, (very nineteen-eighties at some points), and most importantly, let’s talk about a sequence in the centre of the film, where two characters are positioned close together, and Aminpour simply holds the camera, and the sense of foreboding grows and grows, to the point where the action almost seems to stop time, and you want to hold on to the moment, to the “almost” forever.
In fact, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night appears to be a film of the “almost”, of the almost morning, of the almost connecting, of the almost reaching the destination, but not quite. Yet the film, and Aminpour, do not almost get there: they’ve arrived.