I liked this so much. I loved this. I think about it today and something feels warm and happy in my chest. It felt new and different and also pleasantly classic—something young and old both, like the vampire girl at its center.
Every year there are a number of modern black & white movies, like last year’s Roma or Cold War, that are very beautiful and sound in their black & white clothing, but I wouldn’t say are made in a way that feels tied to movies of the past. Which of course they do not have to be, it’s an aesthetic choice that makes sense for their stories. But if A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night was filmed in color, I believe there would still be something inherent in its pacing and atmosphere that would call to mind old movies.
I’d never thought about this before, but night-drawn streets in classic films are so quiet. Probably just a product of the combination of frequent use of sound stages, small extras casts, and that decades ago, streets simply were quieter. People went to sleep. A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night (دختری در شب تنها به خانه میرود) takes place in the fictional Bad City, described in the movie’s log-line that follows it across platforms as an “Iranian ghost-town.” It is. People live there, but they feel sparse, lots of lonely stretches were no one else walks—or there is one other person walking, just one, in a long black veil. On the edge of town is a dry ravine under a bridge where the dead are tumbled, unremarked.
And when the vampire girl walks through the town, the sound carrying softly in the empty air, it felt comforting to me. Old movie stars walking slowly along a street set under the lamps. This movie isn’t slow, but it’s unhurried, the pacing dream-like, black shadows on street corners that you could wrap yourself up in. Something like the still, bombed-out Vienna of The Third Man run through gentle David Lynch. More thematically, maybe Brief Encounter meeting Only Lovers Left Alive.
Our slender vampire very much kills people, with a sudden preternatural swiftness and hungry snarl, but mostly this movie is about sad-tinged, innocent tenderness, between her and the boy, and her and the woman. It’s an airy story—I don’t mean shallow, but like one of those lovely loose-weave shawls. It has its own shape, there’s just lots of space—just enough material to give texture, but it still holds warmth when you lay it around your shoulders. My heart filled watching the final scene, simply long thoughtful shots without any dialogue, for me to have. A gift of openness.
End here for anyone who wants to avoid more specific, spoilery plot details; for the rest of you:
Because for a movie shot in black & white, it is not very. Arash and his father’s lives have been dragged down by the drug dealer, and then when he’s gone Arash simply inherits his trade to become a drug dealer himself. The vampire wears a black chador on the streets, covering her hair and throat, but indoors she always wears a striped boat-neck top that exposes her long beautiful neck and collarbones, making her feel strangely vulnerable to herself. Or maybe to her fangless Dracula—when Arash properly meets her, charmingly high and lost on ecstasy after the costume party, he pulls her in and sweeps his own vampire cloak around her after discovering that she’s cold to the touch. And of course, there’s the ending itself, with all that is known or simply understood, and all that is not. But somehow after all the matters of life & death, it is just about two creatures in the quiet night, looking at each other, as the radio plays.