By Don Simpson | October 16, 2012
Director: Ry Russo-Young
Writers: Ry Russo-Young, Lena Dunham
Starring: Olivia Thirlby, John Krasinski, Rosemarie DeWitt, India Ennenga, Dylan McDermott, Justin Kirk, Jane Levy, Rhys Wakefield, Sam Lerner, Blaise Embry, Emanuele Secci, Anthony Saludares, Mason Welch
Martine (Olivia Thirlby) is a 23-year old artist who has traveled from New York to Los Angeles to work on the sound design of her new video art project. She is delivered to the home of her audio engineer — Peter (John Krasinski) — by a predatory male who clearly misinterprets Martine’s innocent in flight friendliness as an open invitation to screw in the airport parking garage.
John resides with his wife (Rosemarie De Witt), Julie, whom we meet during one of her many uncomfortable therapy sessions with a client (Justin Kirk) who unabashedly has a crush on his psychiatrist. From this point onward, it is pretty obvious where Nobody Walks is going. Every male we meet will make a sexual advance towards a questionably flirtatious (or incredibly naive) female. Even Julie’s daughter — Kolt (India Ennenga) — finds herself in awkward, sexually-charged situations. But, then again, some of the males are more innocent than others. It is obvious that Kolt’s nerdy friend Avi (Sam Lerner) and her younger brother Dusty (Mason Welch) mean no harm; while who knows what sly moves Peter, Peter’s assistant (Rhys Wakefield) and Kolt’s Italian tutor (Emanuele Secci) have up their sleeves.
Co-written with Lena Dunham (Tiny Furniture, Girls), writer-director Ry Russo-Young’s Nobody Walks is a film about relationships and sexual tension; specifically, it is about the awkward and uncomfortable situations that women sometimes find themselves in. The three women of Nobody Walks do not ask for men to make moves on them, but men seem to interpret their friendliness and closeness as flirtations. Maybe the females are flirting. Maybe they are being teases. Maybe they put themselves in these situations. Maybe they enjoy the attention. Or, to paraphrase Martine, maybe they are just doing what they have to in order to get their shit done; and if that means leading a guy on, or even succumbing to their advances, so be it. It is not their fault that they are irresistible to men. In fact, there are no purely innocent characters or evil monsters in Nobody Walks, everyone exists in the morally ambiguous gray area somewhere in between. Russo-Young (You Wont Miss Me) opts to either withhold blame or spread the blame around; heck, even the creepy Italian tutor is given some resemblance of a reason for his actions.
Chris Blauvelt’s cinematography is uniquely intimate, remaining so awkwardly close to the characters that our perspective is not of a voyeur, but of an invisible supporting character infringing upon the personal space of the film’s protagonists. The careful framing and camera movements also allude to the camera being the eyes of someone haunting the lives of these characters; we drift in, we drift out, we slide in between them, we get all up in their business. It is all very purposefully similar to how Martine’s black and white video project minutely examines the relationships of bugs, because that is exactly what Russo-Young is doing with her characters, studying them under the microscope of the unwavering kino eye.