Quentin Tarantino has a lot to answer for. His regurgitation of classic American genres has spewed out endless amounts of pretenders to his throne. Some have been decent, most have been pretty awful and lacked any of Tarantino's wit or keen knack for displacing our sensibilities in a genre.
Enter Ana Lily Amirpour, an Iranian comic-book artist / filmmaker and her startling debut, A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night. In the black-and-white cityscape, a lonesome figure stalks the night in search of men to feast upon. The Girl, played by Sheila Vand, skirts through the town whilst draped in a cloak. On a skateboard. From the very start, A Girl... reminds us that this film isn't based in any type of reality whatsoever. Indeed, it's very much shooting out towards the ether.
A James Dean-esque figure, Arash, is on the hook to local drug kingpin Saeed - who has turned Arash's father into a heroin junkie. When Saeed steals Arash's car and has an encounter with one of his underlings, The Girl decides to intervene with bloody consequences. The dialogue through A Girl... is sparse and only used when absolutely necessary. Instead, Amirpour lets the stark imagery and reductive qualities of shooting in black and white fill in the blanks.
There's a lot to like about A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night. It's slinky and satirical, there's a fantastic soundtrack, the actors are all well-cast and the director is really trying to push the boundaries and create something original. Despite all this, however, it can leave you a little cold. The lack of any forward momentum in the story is stretched to its absolute limits. You'll almost very likely find yourself bored at certain points in the film. Amirpour's consistent use of soundtrack to blanket over drawn-out sequences makes it feel more like a glossy music video than an actual film with a story to tell.
It might simply be that Amirpour's direction was limited by time and circumstance. The film was made on a shoestring budget and shot on digital - and it shows. Despite these misgivings, there's a lot of style in A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night. The Jim Jarmusch-inspired visuals, the well-curated soundtrack, the performances. Just don't expect to be entertained all that much.