Sunday, April 26, 2015

"A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night": A Political Statement Made Dull

Now Available on DVD and Blu-Ray

To use a phrase that is quickly beginning to feel like a cliché on this blog, I really wanted to like A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night.  It has a lot of themes and motifs that I’m very much on board with, providing a uniquely feminist look at sexism in Iran.  Unfortunately, though, this film feels like a lot of meat without many bones to support it, as the characters and plot are severely lacking in substance.

A vampire known only as The Girl wanders the streets of Bad City, coming across men who abuse women and choosing them as her sustinative victims.  In a scene where she warns a young boy to be good lest she one day choose him as a food source, she steals his skateboard and glides through the night, her chador flowing behind her like she is some sort of Iranian Batwoman.  Moments like this are where the film is most enjoyable, as The Girl’s exploits fly in the face of the patriarchal sexism that permeates Iranian politics and societal structures.

Unfortunately, the film’s plot is much more lacking, as a romance slowly, slowly, slowly develops between The Girl and Arash, a decent enough guy who plays by the rules of Bad City’s underground drug scene more out of a sense of duty to his father than a genuine enjoyment of the night life.  Arash seems to symbolize the potential that men have to be good people in Iranian society, and Arash’s presence makes The Girl more discriminating in who she chooses to kill, but his overlong existence in the film is not justified by that thematic point.

This is because the film ultimately comes across as boring.  Scenes drag on without dialogue for obnoxious periods and this makes some of the blatant indie sensibilities all the more transparent.  Shot in black and white with superfluous scenes meant only to hammer in redundant social commentary, the film doesn’t aspire to be much more than a hollow political statement.  Yes, it is fantastic that an Iranian woman (Ana Lily Amirpour) has managed to make a Persian language film that directly attacks the social hierarchy of Iranian society, but the film should not get a free pass if it fails to be anything more than arthouse satire.

A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night functions best as a political statement by its very existence, but would have made a much better film as a short subject rather than a feature.  As it stands, the film drags on for what seems to be an interminable eternity, only to make some very obvious and blunt points that educated audiences should already be aware of.  Know that it exists.  Be happy that it’s able to exist.  Don’t waste your time viewing its existence.

What films do you think have made the best political statements?  Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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