"Walking and Talking" is the kind of film that doesn't really change our perspective on life or offer deeper meanings, but it's expertly written and directed by Nicole Holofcener, who has gathered a top-flight indie cast. The film centers around long-time friends Laura (Anne Heche) and Amelia (Catherine Keener), two twenty-somethings who are now facing the big 3-0. Laura is getting married to Frank (Todd Field), but Amelia has settled for a video store clerk (Kevin Corrigan) who takes her out to a monster movie convention for their first date.
The film is not substancial, but it succeeds in several ways. The film has two elements to bounce back-and-forth to; the friendship between the two women and the desire by Amelia to find "the one". Both are covered adequately and are involving on their own terms. Keener ("Being John Malkovich") is really the perfect choice for Amelia: the actress has a strong presence that doesn't make her seem whiny or pathetic, but we can also sense the issues that may be holding her back from really approaching a serious relationship.
Better yet, all of the performances are actually quite good. The characters are well-written and realized, with dialogue that's natural and often entertaining. Rather than force this fine material, the actors underplay nicely and really pull the audience into the situations, as well as make them seem like believable friends. The film's New York City locations are also wonderfully captured by cinematographer Michael Spiller. The streets and stores really become a character and the film feels more realistic as a result.
One of the best things about the film is that there's no fat. The writer/director gets to the point and moves forward; I never felt conversations became unnecessarily long and never looked at my watch throughout the quick 86-minute running time. "Walking and Talking" is a great date flick, a well-acted and charming picture that's more enjoyable than most films in the genre.
VIDEO: "Walking and Talking" is presented by Miramax in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. As some catalog independent titles can occasionally get somewhat lackluster treatment, I was surprised to see how good this presentation looked. Sharpness and detail aren't exceptional, but the picture remained consistently crisp and pleasantly defined.
Flaws were really few-and-far-between. The print for this 1996 picture looked unexpectedly clean, with only a couple of little specks during the whole feature. Very slight grain was occasionally present, but this was hardly an issue. The picture also remained free of pixelation and edge enhancement.
The film's color palette was nicely rendered, as well, appearing pleasantly saturated and bright, with no smearing or other flaws. Flesh tones remained natural and accurate, while black level was solid. A much better offering than I thought I'd be confronted with.
SOUND: "Walking and Talking", being a low-budget dialogue-heavy comedy/drama, is - as expected - only presented with a 2.0 soundtrack. Still, while there's little aside from the conversations of the characters, the dialogue at least remains crisp, clear and easily heard without turning the volume way up.
MENUS: Non-animated main and sub-menus that, while not flashy, are still nicely designed.
EXTRAS: "Sneak Peek" trailers for other Miramax titles: "Bounce", "Serendipity", "St. Ives", "About Adam" and "Bridget Jones's Diary".
Final Thoughts: "Walking and Talking" is a great little independent film with elements of both comedy and drama. It'll probably go over well as a "date night" rental, but fans of the film can also find this DVD for around $15.00 online.