Reviewed by Ian Forbes
If you’ve been wondering where the stereotypical independent film has been lately, look no further than Nobody Walks. Written by indie darlings Lena Dunham and Ry Russo-Young (the latter also sitting in the director’s chair), it once again tackles the question of what happens to a seemingly happy family who each have their own societally taboo temptations when you stir them all up with the introduction of a young, attractive, and beguiling woman.
homewrecker new woman in their lives is Olivia Thirlby, who’s jetted into Los Angeles from New York to get help sound mixing a film project for her upcoming art gallery show (doesn’t this just scream hipster?). Thirlby continues to exhibit a combination of sweet, almost innocent youthfulness and the allure of a woman beyond her years. Added to that is an almost pathological need to flirt and feel like she has the romantic power anytime a man is in her vicinity. Here, her character is the catalyst for change and desire for all those who meet her; that new person in their lives that brings the idea that your life can be reinvigorated if you want it to – though whether pursuing that notion is a good idea is the crux of the conflicts that arise.
The fresh surprise is India Ennenga, whose most noticeable work to date is on the HBO series Treme. She’s forced to navigate the waters of growing up amidst a sea of adults all on the verge of self-destruction. Her role models are good at showing affection but terrible at being examples of how to act grown up (the bohemian lifestyle exhibited by her parents certainly don’t help there either). Rosemarie DeWitt, who plays her mom, comes closest to being the responsible one but with so many emotions swirling around, she inevitably succumbs on some level to temptation despite her ability to recognize the outcome of her decisions.
You could almost think of this as a modern day interpretation of a British romantic period piece, like something Jane Austen or Charlotte Brontë would have written if they were alive today. The difference here is that there’s no class struggle underpinning the angst and yearning, so it comes off feeling a bit like “first world problems” rather than tragic heartbreak.
On the plus side, there’s the music by Fall on Your Sword, who show that their excellent work on Another Earth wasn’t a fluke and this is one my favorite scores of 2012. Their mix of traditional and electronic scoring creates the right atmosphere for a movie like this and certainly help to remain engaged to the subject material, despite the ability to predict the outcome of everyone’s actions within the first half-hour.
The film suffers most of all from being a cliché. The issues aren’t approached from an angle anyone might consider novel, with the only clear difference being the new Hollywood sheen in which each character is glossed via their professions. The performances are pretty good for the most part, so between the actor’s efforts and the score, the title Nobody Walks shouldn’t become ironic to theater audiences intrigued by the premise or trailer; but whether I’d recommend anyone walk in to the theater in the first place is far more hit and miss.
Nobody Walks hits theaters on October 26, 2012 and is rated R for sexuality, language and some drug use.
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