A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (US 2014)

AGirlWalksHomeAloneAtNight

The ‘lobby card’ for this film reads,

Strange things are afoot in Bad City. The Iranian ghost town . . .

In fact the film was shot in the USA, with funding from Sundance, and the settings look as much like downtown Detroit as any urban area in Iran. The film has enjoyed good reviews from a number of quarters and has a catching trailer. However, ominously, it is also rather flashy. Which would be my single word summation for the film.

It runs for 101 minutes, though it seemed longer to me. The plusses are black and white cinematography, which, at time, is very good. And the pitch for the film is intriguing. Variety sums up as follows:

[This] debut feature spices its genre stew with elements of Lynchian neo-noir and even spaghetti Western.

This is true, though my sense of the film was that it relied heavily on borrowings from earlier films. Not just those suggested above but Jim Jarmusch’s recent Only Lovers Left Alive (2013) and the animated Persepolis (2007).

The plotting struck me as undynamic. And the style, whilst at times eye-catching, does not add to the brew. The techniques in the film appear to have been used rather haphazardly. To give one example, the use of deep focus. This technique depends on lenses, focal distances and lighting, but when well done can be very effective. In this film early on there is a scene with deep staging, but it is in shallow focus: not very helpful. Yet later in the film we get deep focus when the characters are in the foreground and there is an impressive palace in the back ground. The latter relies on CGI, which affects the technique. But I sense that the filmmakers did not really notice this discrepancy.

The Guardian review awards the film four stars. It also mentions another film directed by an Iranian-US citizen, Appropriate Behaviour (2014): a far superior offering. The review ends with

It’s a film with bite.

I reckon you can say that about all vampire movies, but some have sharper fangs.

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