A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night 101 Minutes, November 21, 2014, USA. Netflix
I’m not sure what I expected from A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night. I suppose because I was told the story occurs in Iran I figured all the filmmakers involved would be Iranian. Yes, I’d forgotten how international the contemporary film world is. So the language is in Persian, but the story was filmed in the USA with Western names like Elijah Wood (producer) and other Westerners involved in editing and cinematography.
Picture yourself in a city called Bad City. Bad stuff goes down in bad city. Think pulp-type bad stuff. There is a mass grave at the edge of town which no one seems particularly bothered by. So, life is cheap..and few people care when someone goes missing. There are gangsters, drug-dealers, prostitutes, and heroin addicts around. And aren’t many gangster films really nothing more than westerns in modern guise?
The politicians and activists in the film who speak of moral ideas such as good and evil are only connected to this badlands --with its many orphans and homeless-- through television. The rich are always connected to seedy places of course. They have drug-dealer friends who supply ecstasy, coke, what-have-you, etc to party at their sexually-free clubs.
In this seedy vaguely Middle Eastern Western badlands, there is one person who dresses the way one would expect an observant religious Moslem girl to dress: she wears a hajib and loves music from sixties and seventies America. The women in this drama are all pretty stylized -- hypocritical debauched rich girl, prostitute moll-- but they aren’t stereotypical. They are used as commentary on Iranian oppression representing the hypocritical and secret sins in Iranian society.
Our female vampire is the kind of “good” vampire who doesn’t kill merely because of bloodlust. Although, she gets a glazed look in her eyes when blood is present, she resists the full-on vampiric urge until she meets bad guys who oppress women. When she meets petty criminal Arash, a pool boy for a rich family love comes into her life. Unknown to Arash, he also was longing for something/someone precious in his life, someone with whom he could share his heart with. The perfect Moslem girl.
Trouble is, Arash is a good son who is oppressed by his dad, an heroin addict who forces his son to provide money for his drugs. I will say that I generally feel sorry for addicts in movies but Arash’s dad pretty much outstayed his welcome with me. He is such a slave to heroin that he bullies his son around. Not something to do in front of an avenging female vampire girl fall in love.
Arash’s journey to discovering who his beloved is and his slow journey away from filial loyalties is heart-breaking. But perhaps necessary.
This movie is totally a noir and it’s saying all kinds of thing about female oppression --and oppression in general-- in Iranian society. But it never ever ever comes off as preachy. I highly recommend this.