Nobody Walks: A Movie Review

Nobody Walks, the new indie drama from Ry Russo-Young (Hannah Takes the Stairs, You Won’t Miss Me) and wunderkind Lena Dunham (Tiny Furniture, Girls) is intriguing and dynamic, delivering a punch that is substantial, if it meanders a bit to get there.  The film follows Martine (Olivia Thirlby), a young New Yorker who moves in to the home of sound designer Peter (John Krasinski), his wife Julie (Rosemary Dewitt) and their two children in order to complete her art film.  Her presence soon shakes the peace of the Silver Lake home and sets off a chain of reactions that threatens to upheave everyone’s lives.

Russo-Young is a product of the ‘Mumblecore’ movement, a style based largely off improv and characterization, making films with little to no budget and low quality equipment where the writers, directors and actors are all one. The style, which has shot to fame indie darlings such as Greta Gerwig and the Duplass brothers, clearly has an unsung star in Russo-Young. She directs the film with class and smart direction, guiding you elegantly through the plot’s multiple story lines and love polygons with the more polished look that a bigger budget provides.

As for the writing, which is equal parts Russo-Young and Dunham, it fluctuates between breathtaking and borderline unwatchable. Dunham’s blunt and dry manor of writing dialogue is evident, and the characters sometimes seem to be speaking inner monologues rather than having conversations. Whether this is a good or a bad thing is yet to be decided. Being that the movie is so involved in sound and ambient noise it makes sense that silence becomes a character of its own, but occasionally the lack of conversation stagnates and leaves us wanting answers we can’t find in the artistically balanced shots of the pool. The bright spot among the lulls is the poetry, which in the film is written by the couple’s youngest daughter, Kolt (Indie Ennega). It serves as a flowing narration and a looking glass through which to interpret the film, elevating it from a family drama to a statement about making human connections and pausing to listen to each other every once in a while.

Thirlby brings to the stage her classic deer in the headlights under-spoken style, which makes you want to listen closer to every word she says and the cropped hair and high-waisted jeans only propel her manic pixie dream girl status in the film. Martine can sometimes seem confused and shocked that these events are turning on her, while serving as an instigator in many of them, specifically her affair with Peter (John Krasinski). This fact alone might make her unlikeable, but like her Juno co-star Ellen Page, Thirlby’s naivety and fragility just save Martine from the downfalls of the manic pixie dream girl stereotype.

John Krasinski is well cast and delivers a reliable performance, even if it is one we have seen before. His chemistry with Thirlby is heated but it is his sweet efforts at step-parenting and interacting with Kolt and Dusty that make his performance memorable.

Rosemarie DeWitt is criminally underused in this film, and in fact it is her brief but emotionally charged scenes that seem to string the film together, and she stands clearly the strongest force in the cast.

Newcomer India Ennega as Kolt proves she is one to watch, her performance resonant of a young Zoe Kazan, and Justin Kirk (Weeds) is funny as ever, making use of that dark and captivating delivery he is known for.

Overall the film succeeds as an art piece and is visually and aurally stunning, though when it comes to the general public it might lose some fans.

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