Is “A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night” Feminist Cinema?


Above any political, social or cultural influences in A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014), it remains a love story at its core. Despite all the male-assaulting actions of the film’s vampire antagonist, (if she can be called that), she’s not opposed to ditching Bad City to run off with her boy in the final scene. But she does spend the bulk of the film taking out those who disrespect women - a pimp, a junkie - she even scares the pants off a small boy by telling he’d better be good or she’ll get him.

Variety says:

“Preying on men who take as given the submissiveness of women in her position, she also performs a little grassroots gender reformation, scaring the wits out of a local pre-adolescent with toothy promises of what will happen if he’s not “a good boy.” She’s disarmed, however, by Arash (Arash Marandi), a romantic whose respect for more archaic Islamic codes of honor between men and women draws mockery from others. As she chastely submits to his wooing, even her vampiric instincts are suspended: Rather than breaking his flesh, she allows him to pierce her ears in a tender, erotically charged scene. Some may see this development as running counter to the film’s female-empowerment agenda, but non-violent equality is the endgame here.”

The girl’s acts of vengeance occur beneath a chador, a classic symbol of female oppression in Muslim society, worn open over a t-shirt that repurposes the chador as more an ironic vampire cape than true head-to-toe Muslim fashion. It’s an obvious dash against the subjugation of women and the continued renaissance of women’s role in Muslim society. As Filmmaker Magazine puts it:

“Amirpour never lived in Iran: Her parents fled after the revolution that deposed the Shah and installed a Muslim state. She knows the oppression there only secondhand, having grown up, mostly in California, as an artist working under the cultural freedom afforded by feminism. Her view of the chador conflates the recent enlightenment among females in Muslim countries, the feminist movement in the West, the object itself as an art form, and the visual connection between such apparel and the vampire genre. (At a costume party, Arash sports a Dracula outfit that could be a male version of the abaya.) It is polyvalent.”