26 January 2018


I had had this movie sitting on my computer for quite sometime and was not able to get around to watching it because it was an infernal Matroska (mkv) file and for the life of me I could get the subtitles to work. I got a new version of the film online and this time around all worked just fine and I have to say it was worth the wait and I really enjoyed this very strange and atmospheric film from director/writer Ana Lily Amirpour. The movie is shot in stark black and white and the look and some of the sound editing reminded me a bit of David Lynch’s Eraserhead. While the story takes place, in a fictional placed called Bad City, it was actually filmed in the deserts of Southern California. Most likely the film would not have been made had it been shot in Iran and the California location works out just fine, giving the film an even more jarring other worldly aspect.

While the residents of Bad City eek out their miserable existence from day to day, dealing with drug addiction, prostitution, crime, poverty and all the other things one might expect from a place called Bad City, The Girl (played convincingly by the darkly charasmatic Sheila Vand) skateboards alone through the city at night clad in her black chador and stripped t-shirt looking for someone to quench her vampiric appetite. She becomes entangled in the lives of a handsome young man, his heroin addicted father, a streetwalker and a most interesting cat (credited as Masuka). The film could be called a slow burn or even a no burn and some people may find the pace a little too slow for their taste, but I got rather hypnotized by the look and sound of the film and it was, sadly, over before I wanted it to be.

I have a comic book, er... I mean graphic novel..., that I will assume without verifying is an adaptation of the film rather than the other way around. It is extremely well drawn in high contrast black and white and to be honest I have never read it. I flipped through it and looked at the drawing only. I really do not read comic books too much anymore but like looking at the artwork as I used to do some drawing back when I wore and younger man’s coat. Some, or most reviews, call it a “vampire western” and that can be misleading. Some of the score does have a spaghetti western feel to it and shots of sagebrush and cactus gives it that feel as well. But the film is certainly something a little more. I do not know if it is a study on anti-misogyny as I read in a review earlier. That may be a little too much and I am blessed into I do not think that deeply about films I watch or try to project my own social agendas into whatever it is I watch.

If I had any criticism it would be there was a little too much of not much happening and not enough violence for me. Had there been a couple more kills it would have been perfect, since The Girl, when it comes time to kill, is very wicked and menacing. But it is okay and maybe it is even a good thing the film did not go down that path and as it is it achieves more of an art-house feel to it, a movie possibly with a bigger message (who knows, maybe even about misogyny, but I don’t care) but one that looks and sounds and feels sinister and bleak enough just as it. Can’t recommend it enough.

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