A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night [2014] is an impressive debut from writer/director Ana Lily Amirpour starring Sheila Vand, Arash Marandi, Marshall Manesh, and Mozhan Marno in what is advertised as “the first Iranian Vampire Western.”

Style over Substance. From the first frame, it’s clear that this film will be well shot, and one quickly discovers how incredibly wrong one is, to think that. The cinematography is, for the most part, astounding. The stark black and white shot with shallow depth and impeccable framing is by far the standout aspect of this picture. That mixed with a stellar soundtrack and scenes that are more about emotion than narrative and you have something so stylish and sleek it’s no wonder it’s been so well received.

Something Old and Something New. Ultimately this production is a mix of a lot of things, and that’s what makes it so unique and charming. It’s a film set in an Iranian town, it’s about a vampire, has the feel of a western, is modern, filled with feminist themes, and comes across as very arthouse at times. Overall it just feels cool. There are moments that really hit the jackpot, and they’re the scenes that will standout and stay with you after the credits role. As the film moves along, however, there’s an obvious balancing issue between the tones from moment to moment. We experience scenes that are tense and mysterious followed by erratic and drug induced to slow single takes that are romantic and magical. Alone they are all crafted superbly, but back to back they make for an inconsistent film. It certainly doesn’t ruin anything, but it is more than noticeable.

Skateboards and Soundtracks. Ana Lily Amirpour has been described as “the next Tarantino” and no one with any concept of film could disagree that her debut oozes with QT’s influences: from the movement of characters within the frame and the composition of the shots all the way to the specific way a scene is edited together; although, most out of all of these is the soundtrack that’s pieced together. There’s such a wonderful array of slick-rocking-cool throughout that it may give the Reservoir Dogs soundtrack a run for its money. This is a filmmaker who has a style, and that style is purely influenced by everything out there she can put together in her own magical way. It works, and it makes something utterly unique amongst all the common themes and tropes we’ve come to know.

A beautiful and moody smorgasbord that hints at endless possibilities for its first-time writer/director.

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
3.5Overall Score
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