You know those smug indie-dramas about well-off, smug people who go around doing smug things? Where it’s all done rather smugly?
A married film editor (John Krasinski) welcomes an aspiring sound recordist (Olivia Thirlby) into his home to work together on mutual projects. Naturally, as the two’s working lives become closer, so does their romantic ones. Every member of this well-esteemed family also become embroiled in their own sexual pursuits; one is after the other, while the other never seems that interested.
This makes it sound like an updated La Règle Du Jeu (1939). Unfortunately, it’s not – while that film was filled with quietly simmering characters, Nobody Walks has a population of zero on that front. There are decent stabs at dialogue, but no genuine chemistry between anyone for 85 long minutes. There are a handful of rather nice scenes, however, which gel because there are no words; director Ry Russo-Young seems to understand the potency a sequence of images can have, and when he extolls this capability on-screen, real sparks do fly. Annoyingly, it’s all ruined when one of the characters opens their mouth.
Aesthetically, it’s all shot in vivid colours, and the camerawork entirely suits the tone of the movie – there are even a couple of Hitchcockian angles which add a lot of weight, but the interspersion of video of ants crawling about in close-up manages to ruin any narrative. It’s an obvious attempt to construct an analogy about the intricacies of nature and humankind, the dynamic of the big and the small, but is far too blunt to make any real kind of point.
The entwined storylines always seems disparate, due to their innate quality of never being wholly convincing. Thirlby should never have been cast; she seems completely vacant for the entirety of the movie. There is never any real chemistry bubbling between her and her romantic interest, or indeed anyone – a death knell for a film that’s supposed to be about exactly this romance.
Ultimately, Nobody Walks tries your patience without ever rewarding it. Watching strenuous relationships should never actually feel strenuous, but it manages just that with pretentious execution and an inability to make any focused observations. This could have been an interesting character study, but falls completely flat. Like its characters, it’s bright on the outside, but dull at the core.