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Nobody Walks

2012 | 83 min | R | 1.85:1

Nobody Walks


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Theatrical release date

 19 October, 2012

Country of origin

 United States

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Screenshots from Nobody Walks Blu-ray

Nobody Walks Preview  

 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, October 19, 2012

“Nobody Walks” pays specific attention to sensuality, with a certain rise of sexuality viewed through acts of flirtation, food preparation, and sound recording. It’s rare to find a movie devoted to the art of eroticism, though I wish “Nobody Walks” was a picture that deserved an audience, with something more to offer outside of the occasional moment of striking intimacy. A dull, flatly arranged offering of cinematic navel-gazing, the feature refuses form to wallow in the frustrations of desire, feeling aimless as it makes time for unhappy people forced to deal with easily avoidable interpersonal discomfort. A few scenes hint at the potential of the piece, while the rest of the effort seems more interested in curling up for a nap.

Martine (Olivia Thirlby) is a young, promising New York City artist in need of professional help to bring one of her video installations highlighting insect behaviors to life. Traveling to Los Angeles to stay with her mother’s friend Julie (Rosemarie DeWitt), whose husband, Peter (John Krasinski), is a Hollywood sound mixer, Martine is quickly introduced to the daily discomfort of the home, with teen daughter Kolt (India Ennenga) also deeply troubled when her Italian tutor (Emanuele Secci) begins to make unwanted advances. Casually infatuated with anyone she comes into contact with, Martine engages in a sexual relationship with Peter, who grows jealous when his lover turns her attention to David (Rhys Wakefield), his assistant. Working on the film while trying to mute his passion for Martine, Peter’s marriage is corrupted by Julie’s awareness, a situation exacerbated during her day job as a therapist, working with a particularly forward movie director (Justin Kirk).

Written by Lena Dunham and Ry Russo-Young (who also directs), “Nobody Walks” comes across as an unfinished work, with loose characterizations and a general rudderless atmosphere that brings the entire endeavor to a full stop on more than one occasion. Shot with traditionally thin HD glow, Russo-Young works to transform the minor story into a valentine for L.A. culture, with extended driving shots and neighborhood inspection adding to the ambiance of the effort, while furthering its reluctance to really challenge the participants in this circle of lust. It’s a pretty picture with working knowledge of the area, yet the director appears too infatuated with the surface details, including a preoccupation with Martine’s insect footage, which appears to hold some type of symbolic spell that’s largely indecipherable.

To accept “Nobody Walks” as a viable emotional experience, one must be comfortable with the character of Martine. An experience junkie who hates conflict and comes to bewitch everyone she meets, Martine is the screenplay’s siren, though her general lack of personality and tomboyish look seem in direct contrast to the dewy woman Dunham and Russo-Young have initially imagined. Everyone wants a piece of the artist, and she’s happy to oblige, if only to achieve that irresistible flash of attraction, which fuels her every move. “Nobody Walks” requires viewers to believe in Martin’s allure and her ability to cause domestic disturbances wherever she goes. Thirlby’s performance is too blank to possess such enticement, while the movie doesn’t make an effort to explore the reach of her charm outside of her exotic vocation, deceptive innocence, and openness to strangers.

If Martine is building a database of life experiences to feed her work, the writing doesn’t mention it. In fact, it doesn’t reveal much of anything about the character, preferring to trumpet her independence while contorting most of the male characters into semi-predatory creeps, with the Italian tutor a particularly nasty man. Kolt’s teenage sponge subplot of humiliation and confusion seems superfluous to the feature, a fragment of a larger idea to unite Julie, her daughter, and Martine in some type of victim triangle the script pays only vague attention to.

“Nobody Walks” doesn’t build to a conclusion, it dissolves slowly, like an art-house hourglass. It’s not particularly engrossing or convincing, though there’s promise in the folds of the feature, with select moments delivering the intended hypnotic effect of sensorial delights. If only the entire effort followed suit.

Starring: John Krasinski, Olivia Thirlby, Rosemarie DeWitt, Dylan McDermott, Justin Kirk (I), Rhys Wakefield

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