NOBODY WALKS feels like a disconnected crawl that possess solid dialogue (by GIRLS creator Lena Dunham), interesting visuals and sounds, and absolutely no relationship between them and no semblance of story.
A movie about sex, the color splash of something new, and the quiet hell of suburban tranquility — it’s clear that the film wants to tell us a familiar story (think FATAL ATTRACTION with a more benign resolution as presented to us by a semi-hipster) while also offering us a bit of sense porn that is supposed to be erotic but instead comes off as creative and desperate. NOBODY WALKS tries so hard to be art that it forgets to be good or feel plausible despite it’s naturalistic tone.
In the film, which is presently available on VOD and heading for a small theatrical release beginning tomorrow, John Krasinski (THE OFFICE) plays Pete, a sound engineer, husband, and father/step-father who is helping a family friend out with her performance piece. Olivia Thirlby (DREDD) is Martine, the mysterious artist and friend who nobody can resist for some reason that isn’t really explained.
In fact, from the beginning of the film we are spoon fed the notion that Martine possesses an unbelievable magnetism because she is so quiet and artistic and unattainable because she keeps turning down every one of the constant array of penises that keep flying at her. At the airport the guy who sat next to her on the plane begins to unbuckle his belt in the parking garage while making out with her. At Pete and his wife Julie’s house, Pete’s assistant David comes on to her and soon takes a shot in a parked car outside Julie’s daughter’s window — a gut shot to the teenage girl because she has unrequited feelings for David. Luckily she’s also working on her feelings toward a classmate and warding off the advances of her creepy Italian teacher. Oh by the way, this movie is exceptionally busy.
Speaking of unrequited feelings, Pete soon possesses them for Martine despite his happy home. She’s artistic and Julie is dull, she’s young and Julie is older, her name is Martine and Julie’s name is Julie. Contrast is the greased track that leads Pete toward adulterous bliss and then heartache, contrast and lazy story telling. See we really don’t see Pete agonize over his decision to cheat on his wife and potentially wreck his life and these are his decisions.
Sure, Martine starts their carnal discourse with a nuzzle of the neck, but he capitalizes and kisses her before following up the next day (after his suspicious wife confronts him, admits that even she(!) is attracted to Martine, and then begs him to not embarrass her) and begins to have his way with her on the desk of his sound-proof office while we see shots inter-cut between the scandal that is occurring downstairs and the mundane movements of the rest of the household elsewhere.
Afterwards, because she is apparently so intoxicating, Pete continues to pursue Martine, even slow dancing with her at a party where Julie can see. And see she does, inexplicably smiling and then running outside into the arms of Justin Kirk’s slimy screenwriter character who is also a patient of hers. Kirk is barely a part of this movie, inserted to remind Julie of the kind of man she used to be attracted too — the rock star type with the exciting life, not the lowly sound engineer — he is her contrast and her potential affair is meant to, I suppose, make Pete’s affair more palatable and show that she too is barely surviving her awful life with her nice house and her perfect family. Again, I have to assume, because neither Julie or Pete ever seem miserable, they just seem like they really want to have sex with other people.
By the next morning, Julie is numb after almost sleeping with her patient and Pete is first wounded by Martine’s reluctance to move out to California and then driven insane by her rejection of him for David, who she goes home with. Now Pete is in her face, yelling, telling her all that he sacrificed for her. His life is shattered because of a pointless tryst and we’re left to wonder why, and once again, wonder what it is that anyone sees in this character, this manic pixie nightmare girl who is created without definition or a purpose beyond pulling the string that unravels a life that seemingly had no loose threads.
“Marriage is complicated” says Pete at one point, but throughout this entire movie we wait for him or Julie or anyone to explain some of the complexity that plagues their marriage. We wait for anyone to actually connect any of the actions in this movie to any kind of cause. Instead, people float and talk and it all winds up being a bunch of sound and fury signifying nothing.