TCFF Day 6: Nobody Walks Review

Day six at TCFF has come and gone. So far I’ve seen over a half dozen films, on my way to completing the 11 movies I set out to do. I think that’s about hit the maximum number of films I could handle in a week before things become a blur and I’d have a hard time reviewing each of them.

Before I get to my Day 6 review, I just want to share that my highlight of the day was chatting with director David Spaltro, whose sophomore film Things I Don’t Understand will have its Minnesota premiere@ TCFF on Friday at 6 pm. It stars Minnesota-native Molly Ryman as Violet Kubelick, a brilliant young grad student studying near-death experiences, is now withdrawn and closed-off after a mysterious, failed suicide attempt. Check out his film’s official site for more info, it’s been winning all kinds of awards in the film festival circuit.

I’m thrilled that David has agreed to an interview with me and fellow blogger June later this afternoon, yay! He’s the nicest director you’ll ever have the pleasure to meet. Stay tuned for my interview post!

Now on to the review:


Confession: This is the kind of film I normally don’t gravitate towards because of the subject matter. But hey, sometimes as a film blogger, stepping out of one’s comfort zone once in a while is a good thing and a film festival is a perfect venue for that.

Nobody Walks centers on Martine (Olivia Thirlby), a young New Yorker traveling to L.A. to finish her film with the help of Peter (John Krasinski), a married 30-something living in the Hollywood Hills area. It’s not a good sign when within the first five minutes I’ve got a dreadful inkling that I would not like this movie. The way Martine is introduced at the airport, making out with some guy she just met on the plane sets the tone of the rest of the film and also about her character. Later on we learn that she’s an artist, though it’s unclear what kind of artist she is and it’s never fully explained why she came all the way to L.A. to finish her movie.

One thing for sure, the tomboy-ish Martine is effortlessly seductive. She gives such a sensual vibe that men just can’t help being drawn to her. Peter is no exception, within a couple of days working with her, it’s inevitable that the start getting physical. Neither of them seems to have much remorse over this, not the husband who’s married with kids, nor the seductress on the brink of ruining someone’s family. The sexual tension practically ricochets off the screen, not just between Martine and Peter but everyone else in their circle: Martine and Peter’s assistant David, Peter’s wife Julie with her therapy patient and Julie’s 16-year-old daughter Kolt discovering her sexuality.

I don’t know if ‘glorifying’ is the right word but I feel like the writers and director Ry Russo Young puts so much emphasis on sexuality that the characters feel so one-dimensional. My impression of this family is that they’re a bunch of well-off, self-absorbed people who live such a comfortable existence that life is all about instant gratification. There is barely any nuance in any of the characters, save for Julie (played by the immensely likable and talented Rosemarie DeWitt) who still has some scruples left in her when temptation comes her way like a storm. But even so, her conversation with her young daughter about men and relationship leaves me scratching my head. Let’s just say if I were Kolt, I’d be even more confused about what I’m supposed to think or do.

To be fair, I think there are some interesting ideas here and the cinematography has that intimate sense that makes it atmospheric. There are also some fun scenes in relation to sound effects towards the beginning of the film. The performances are pretty good overall. This is the first time I’ve seen both Olivia Thirlby and John Krasinski in a feature film and I think both have screen charisma as lead actors. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve always liked DeWitt and it’s nice to see her get adequate screen time here and she’s perhaps the most likable character in the film for me. Dylan McDermott and Justin Kirk also have a memorable supporting part. Unfortunately, none of the characters are well-developed. In fact, up until the end of the movie, I still have no clue just who Martine is and why she does what she does. Enigmatic is one thing but vacant is another and I feel that the protagonist falls under the latter, and she is impossible to root for.

It’s unfortunate that I got my first intro to the co-writer, Lena Dunham through this post on Cinematic Corner, at the time I hadn’t seen any of Dunham’s work but now I realize that some of the characters on her HBO show GIRLS are similar to Martine. Needless to say, I did not enjoy this movie. The whole thing just rings hollow existentialism to me, it communicates nothing of value and the film has a ‘cooler than thou’ vibe that really puts me off. The topic of infidelity is already so dismal, it certainly doesn’t help that in this one, there’s barely any redeeming quality to enliven it.

2 out of 5 reels

Has anyone seen this film and/or film by the filmmakers/writers? What are your thoughts?

18 thoughts on “TCFF Day 6: Nobody Walks Review

  1. Ted S.

    Not my cup of tea so I have no interest in seeing the film and I’ve never heard of its director/writer either. The only work I’ve seen Krasinski in is his stint on The Office. I like him as actor but for TV, I don’t see him making it big on the big screen. Although Hollywood tried to make him into one with all those flop comedies he starred in.

    1. I have only seen Krasinski in The Office too, this is a very different role for him and I think is great that he’s stretching himself acting-wise. I just didn’t care for the writing and the way the characters are shaped.

  2. You absolutely nailed it. I was also in attendance and could not believe how disappointed I was with it. I really like Dunham’s work on GIRLS and I usually can get on board with Thirlby or Krasinksi in indie dramas, but this one just took the cake as a time-waster for me. Kept toying with so many good launching points for a truly engaging story, but felt like a massive tease.

    1. Hi Jeremy, welcome to FC! I see you’re blogging for TCFF also, very cool! That’s interesting that as a fan of Dunham’s work you’re also disappointed. Yeah, I feel like the ‘truly engaging story’ just never happens, when it ended I turned to my friend next to me and asked, ‘just what the heck is the point of this movie??’ [shrugs]

  3. I only gave it 3/5, but I can see where you’re coming from, Ruth. Hope this will lead you to more of Thirlby’s and Krasinski’s work. 🙂

  4. I hope to see the day Dunham realizes her writing is just plain bad, can’t say I’m surprised this wasn’t any good. I feel bad for Krasinski, he deserves better.

    1. It’s not the style of her writing that’s bad, I just don’t like the way she portrays women, and her view of relationships seems rather shallow. I hope Krasinsi finds better material next time.

  5. That’s a bummer you didn’t like it. I really want to see it as I love Thirlby’s work. I have to admit I didn’t realize until just recently that Lena Dunham wrote it. That kind of turns me off of it a bit.

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