By Bill Arceneaux
An “Iranian vampire western?” Does this properly describe A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night? It’s hard to say. The film, set in a desolate Middle Eastern town — between a bigger city and some power plants — could be called Jim Jarmusch-ian by way of David Lynch. It’s incredibly atmospheric, incredibly moody and all about feeling. Or, feelings, rather. Dread, loneliness and romance are expressed, but none more than the others.
But, what did the film make me feel?
It made me feel like putting on an album by The Raveonettes.
Throughout A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, before and after sequences of eerily quiet streets, we get bellows of music. Some foreign, some domestic, but always catchy and hip. Always the kind you’d expect to hear on vinyl or cassette. Nostalgic contemporary? Music is the common denominator in the film, joining characters in pain and joy, in awkwardness and love. And when words can’t be thought of or don’t fit right, they put on a song to let everyone know how they feel.
The movie is centered on a boy and a girl. The boy, after certain circumstances arise, deals drugs to support him and his father. His father is a junkie himself, much to his son’s shame. The girl? She’s a vampire, stalking men who exploit and hurt women. And hobos. And little boys. Her aim isn’t quite focused, and appears to be based on whimsy and how the mood strikes her. If she comes across someone bad, she takes care of them. If she is hungry, she takes care of that. When the two meet, there seems to be an instant, unexplainable attraction. A slow, single shot musical sequence in her apartment fits the very bill of romance.
It’s not easy describing something that comes off like a cross between Eraserhead and Dead Man. It isn’t so much that the narrative is loose, but rather that its coy – almost timid about letting us in on what’s happening and why. This would be problematic IF the mood and atmosphere weren’t so specific and detailed. If anything, having a shy plot is a boon to this film.
An “Iranian vampire western?” Maybe. I’d call it a “Greaser meets Vampire romance.” Why not? Feels right, I think.
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night will continue to screen at Indywood in New Orleans for another week.
For more from the author, follow him on twitter @BillReviews.