Have you seen it? I’m just now getting around to seeing this festival darling from last year. It proved to be one of those inspiring works of art that have made me slap the side of my head with envy. Why hadn’t I thought of this? But what I love about this film is that it redefines beauty. The film is shot in black and white and the contrast places this story in the genre of film noir. The camera style appears to be an ode to the eyes of Fellini, Hitchcock and Jarmusch. It’s a very meticulous and classical film. Ana Lily Amirpour displays that she is a clear student of cinematic language. The pace is hauntingly slow but the electronic soundtrack establishes the pulse.
There’s not much background information given in this film. There is a vampire lurking the streets of a destitute fictional town in Iran called Bad City. Where she came from doesn’t matter. We don’t get much info about who she is except for her love of slow records and theft of the delinquent men she kills. She believes in the power of goodness. She believes in freedom. She kindles a romantic situation with a neighborhood boy named Rash. The director has gone on record to say that this film is not a feminist statement but in a time when women’s rights are being attacked politically, it is very difficult to see it any other way. Our young female protagonist is strong enough and independent enough to walk alone in the dark whilst putting the fear of God in the men she encounters. Even in love, there is no weakness. She’s done “bad things” is what she says but her actions are championed. There is no retribution for what seems to be her gravest kill, but even then, she’s worked to balance the field of power for the good people whom she admires. I thoroughly enjoyed this film. Its biggest triumphs are the elongated silences, master cinematography by Lyle Vincent, and the soundtrack. The shattering noise when Amirpour’s vampire kills or threatens to kill is so piercing that it stretches the dynamics of her character. This unassuming girl with no name and what seems to be ownership of only two outfits just might be one of the most fearsome beautiful characters I’ve seen in a few years. Even the way she excepts romance is thrilling. She allows herself to be woo’d but it’s so dangerous because we as the viewer understand wholeheartedly that she wields all of the power and I found myself praying that Rash would not fall prey to one false move. It is a very strong statement and innovative cinematic analysis on the power dynamics of romantic liaisons. She is romanced because she very well desires to be romanced. Rash has tricked no one. Rash has manipulated no one. He is silently invited because that’s what she wants. Amazing! Kudos to Amirpour and everyone involved with this film. I advise a viewing of this well-paced and intricate movie.