That sensation is what Nobody Walks as a film is ultimately trying to capture as well. There are no sweeping romances beginning to bloom. There isn't a villain to vanquish, a clock to outrun, a seemingly insurmountable hurdle to leap over, nor a heart to win. It's a series of moments, closely observed.
Martine (Olivia Thirlby) is an early twentysomething artist who's made the trek from New York to Los Angeles to finish her experimental film. A friend from back east put her
Nobody Walks somehow manages to be less than the sum of its parts. It offers a very intimate view of filmmaking in Los Angeles, propelled by an infectious joy of creation. Nobody Walks benefits greatly from its terrific cast. I've always thought of John Krasinski as a likeable but rarely more than serviceable actor, but Nobody Walks shows how comfortable a fit drama is for him as well. Krasinski deftly fields both the soaring highs of an artist infatuated as well as the crashing lows of obsession and loss. Rosemary DeWitt is expectedly marvelous as Peter's wife, quietly forming the emotionally resonant core of the film. India Ennenga was previously an unknown quantity to me, but it's clear that hers is a name to keep an eye out for. As Peter's teenaged stepdaughter Kolt, Ennenga is affected, both positively and negatively, by Martine's intrusion...drawn towards her yet desperate for her to leave. As is the case with most everyone else in the film, Kolt both desires and is desired.
It's through Olivia Thirlby the presence of co-writer Lena Dunham is most greatly felt. Martine doesn't know who or what she is, exactly. This character isn't some Manic Pixie Dream Girl who's there to jab a syringe full of
As well-crafted as Nobody Walks is on so many levels -- from a unilaterally terrific cast to its quietly striking cinematography -- it ultimately doesn't come together as a film. Characters are often introduced then quickly discarded or shuffled so deeply onto the sidelines that their presence is forgotten. The wildly uneven pacing is a struggle even with a runtime that doesn't even break the 80 minute mark, minus credits. Nobody Walks feels as if it's primarily interested in building to a key moment that arrives halfway through, and it's unable to maintain that same energy and momentum once that's out of the way. I was engaged by the performances but felt little investment in the actual characters, and there's not enough of a narrative for my attention to be directed there instead. There are such an absurd number of infatuations that each new one that's introduced begins to feel like that much more of a distraction. Nobody Walks would likely benefit from a tighter, more concentrated focus; there's a great deal of potential here, but few of the plot threads are explored deeply enough to really mean much of anything. At the end of the day, I'm not even sure what I'm supposed to take away from the film. Martine arrives, she indulges her passions, she inadvertently does some damage, and...well, that's pretty much it. A fair amount of time is devoted in the extras to noting what a transformative effect Martine has on this family, but is anyone really substantively changed by the time the end credits roll?
For a film where passion is such a focal point, it comes as a disappointment that all Nobody Walks inspires is indifference. Rent It.
I was thrilled to see that Nobody Walks was lensed on 16mm. That warm, filmic texture wonderfully complements the movie, and it wouldn't evoke nearly the same tone with smooth, glossy digital cinematography. This does
Nobody Walks arrives on a dual-layer Blu-ray disc at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1.
One of the central characters of Nobody Walks is a sound designer, so I guess it follows that the film would take such a stylized approach to audio. Though this Blu-ray disc does feature a 24-bit, six-channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack, the surrounds are almost entirely dormant outside of the recording of Martine's experimental short. If there's not a directional microphone on-screen or footage from Scorpio unspooling, the rear channels might as well be dead silent. Those sequences are in so many ways the driving force of Nobody Walks, and that aesthetic greatly heightens their strength and also encourages viewers to listen with the same intensity as Martine and Peter. The subdued nature of the film doesn't lend itself to anything otherwise sonically adventurous, although dialogue is consistently rendered cleanly and clearly in the mix, and the synth-bass in Peter's ambient score is impressively substantial. Very effective.
There are no dubs, alternate mixes, or audio commentaries this time around. Subtitles are offered in English (SDH) and Spanish.
The Final Word
Nobody Walks is frustratingly okay, seizing hold of all the right elements but unable to transform them into anything particularly engaging. Rent It.
I kind of do want to grade Nobody Walks on a curve for having John Krasinski fiddle with a Moogerfooger MF-105. Sorry, it warms my cold, soulless heart.