Magnolia Pictures // 2012 // 82 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Clark Douglas // February 20th, 2013
"You will never have anything or anyone you want."
Ry Russo-Young's Nobody Walks has a lot going for it: it has a stellar cast of well-regarded TV actors, it has a screenplay co-written by the talented Lena Dunham and it has a strong sense of atmosphere. Unfortunately, that's about it. With a running time of only 82 minutes, the film's surface pleasures may prove sufficient for the generous-minded casual viewer, but it's hard not to be disappointed with the fact that the film never really starts clicking.
Our story begins as indie filmmaker Martine (Olivia Thirlby, Dredd) arrives in Los Angeles to work on her latest project (an experimental film of sorts involving the fusion of nature footage and unnerving sound design). She's enlisted the help of a sound expert named Peter (John Krasinski, Away We Go), who is doing this project as a favor before starting on a major studio production. Peter is happily married to a therapist named Julie (Rosemary DeWitt, United States of Tara), who is currently providing counsel to a troubled movie star named Billy (Justin Kirk, Weeds). Before long, Peter finds himself growing very fond of Martine while Julie begins realizing that she and Billy may be forming a less-than-professional connection. As both spouses debate whether or not to act on their feelings, their daughter Kolt (India Ennenga, Treme) discovers that her much older Italian tutor Marcello (Emanuele Secci, Angels and Demons) is lusting after her.
In many ways, Nobody Walks feels like a half-baked version of another 2012 feature: the adultery-themed drama 360, which was itself a half-baked remake of Max Ophuls La Ronde. I guess what I'm saying is that (wait for it) this one could have used a bit more time in the oven (thank you, thank you, I'll be here all week). In many ways, the aesthetic is pretty similar to Lena Dunham's Girls -- it's a story about the problems of privileged, young white adults -- but it lacks that show's wit, insight and self-deprecating humor. What we're left with is a story about slightly dull people who may or may not cheat on each other. If the story had a little more meat on its bones, it might have been something, but I'm afraid it isn't much more than a forgettable (if reasonably well-crafted) entry on the resumes of all involved.
Perhaps this is one of those films that has to catch you from just the right angle. Perhaps if you view it at the right time of day (or more likely, night) when you're in the right mood, its quiet sensuousness and meditation on human nature will prove satisfactory. Maybe I was just in the wrong frame of mind, as I watched the film during daylight hours with a particularly attention-starved cat nudging me constantly throughout. Such little things can indeed inform a viewing experience. Then again, it might have felt exactly as thin regardless of when I watched it. It's one of those movies which doesn't have many prominent faults -- again, it's quite strong on a technical level and all of the performances are credible (though Marcello was a bit too thinly-drawn), but those virtues aren't being offered in the service of anything particularly worthwhile. I bought the scenario the film presented; I just didn't care.
Nobody Walks (Blu-ray) delivers a decent 1080p/1.78:1 transfer that does a nice job of capturing the film's alternately lush and sterile locations. Surprisingly, the film was shot on 16mm, which gives the image a natural warmth that is absent from today's digitally-dominated world. A pleasing, light layer of grain is left intact, flesh tones are natural and blacks are deep. The DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio track is stronger and more involving than what most indie dramas receive, largely due to the fact that the film is quite preoccupied with the world of sound design. A couple of key sequences in which Peter and Martine experiment with sounds are high points, offering the disc a chance to really shine in the audio department. Supplements include interviews with Russo-Young and Thirlby, a disposable EPK-style featurette ("AXS TV: A Look at Nobody Walks"), the complete short-film-within-the-film "Scorpio" (5 minutes), a deleted scene and a trailer.
Nobody Walks is a modestly respectable film, but the story offers too little of interest to warrant a recommendation.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Magnolia Pictures
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 82 Minutes
Release Year: 2012
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Short Film
* Deleted Scene