By Iman Sadri
October 25, 2017
Some have called Ana Lily Amirpour The Quentin Tarantino of her generation. It has a complimentary ring to it. But Lily, as her friends call her, is more than a Tarantino 2.0. She is part Tarantino, part Sergio Leone, part Alfred Hitchcock, and the sum of at least half a dozen other filmmakers that Amirpour admires. But more than being an amalgamation of notable directors in Hollywood past or present, Ana Lily Amirpour is herself.
It’s that originality that can be seen in her films. Tarantino is dialogue-heavy. Amirpour’s first two breakthrough films A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night and The Bad Batch are light in conversation. But, still heavy in suspense. In The Bad Batch, Jim Carrey is barely given much dialogue for his character of the Hermit. Giovanni Ribisi, an acclaimed actor who is known for his dialogue rich characters, only speaks some schizophrenic-gibberish. Amirpour makes films her own unique way and brings out the acting in her actors.
Similar to how Alejandro González Iñárritu brought out an unseen side of Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant by getting Leo to use his eyes to act and show emotion, Ana Lily Amirpour is already making groundmaking films that bring out the art from her artists. The actors she casts in her films understand her auteur-ness and go all in to be part of her movie making experience. To get Jim Carrey to sign on a film where he is given barely any words to speak and is almost unrecognizable, is a feat on its own.
In The Bad Batch, Amirpour’s story takes the audience into her magical world that is unlike anything projected before on screen. It is a visual spectacle. There is Cannibalism, an EDC-like rave, an acid trip, amputees, Keanu Reeves surrounded by a harem, and Jason Mamoa with his shirt off. In the film, the protagonist Arlen is in a Texas wasteland and is told to Find Comfort. What audiences find is a uniquely entertaining film that keeps their anticipation peaking.
In A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, Amirpour made her grand entrance in Hollywood. She had written a dozen other scripts prior to it and had completed many short films, including one with The Girl, played by Sheila Vand. In the film, The Girl’s apartment has a photo of Ana Lily Amirpour hanging on the wall. It is among a few other images that are up in the protagonist’s room. Albeit, it is small. The picture of Amirpour can only be seen if you look closely. Her image on the wall is a reminder to the audience to respect the attention to detail in her films. This detail is another part of Amirpour’s originality.
In A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night along with The Bad Batch everything in each scene has signficance to the the story. The rows of dead bodies lying in a ditch show the inhospitableness of Bad City. The James Dean like car, hair and style of Arash (Played by Arash Marandi) depict The Girl’s love interest as a throwback.
To The Girl, Arash is a fresh breath of air of substance in the desolate, depressed and industrial Bad City. To Hollywood, Ana Lily Amirpour is also a fresh breath of air of original and captivating filmaking.
Iman Sadri is the founder of The Persian Observer