Sean K. Cureton

Recommendation of the Week: Nobody Walks (2012)

In Movies on VOD: Recommendation of the Week on December 25, 2013 at 1:01 pm
Theatrical Poster

Theatrical Poster

Nobody Walks (2012)
Directed by Ry Russo-Young
Netflix Rating: Loved It

Nobody Walks is directed by Ry Russo-Young, a member of the Mumblecore film movement, and is co-written by the award winning actress and writer of HBO’s Girls, Lena Dunham. It stars Olivia Thirlby as a young artist who employs the help of a well renowned sound engineer, played by John Krasinski, to complete an art film meant to be included in an upcoming exhibition. As the two become more involved with one another over the course of working on the film, they begin to share a certain intimacy that begins to encroach on their private lives. In this way, Russo-Young’s new film is about art and intimacy, crafting a tale that delves into the inexpressible and tenuous nature of the emotions involved in creating a work of art. Art, as it is defined and depicted in the film, is volatile, thrilling, and dangerous, effecting the geography of interpersonal relationships, and leaving its mark on anyone who sees it, making Russo-Young’s film an unforgettable and indispensable piece of artistic creation and interpretation.

In the film, Thirlby’s Martine is already a dangerous entity herself, flirting and engaging with the men that she comes into contact with aggressively, while maintaining a certain distance that is required by the work she does. Krasinski’s Peter is vulnerable to Martine’s lurid genius, and falls for her almost immediately. Watching these two characters work together on Martine’s art film is intense, loaded with the eroticism of foreplay, shot for shot, and culminating with a coupling that feels real at the time, but turns into artistic posing later. Martine and Peter make for a fascinating cinematic couple, tiptoeing around each other’s emotions and sensitivities, and crashing into one another when the pretension of their art allows them a glimpse into a forbidden and unspoken intimacy. Art thus serves as a shortcut to love for the film’s protagonists, but proves to be only a picture, or a sketch, of the actual thing, creating an intimacy that exists only within the piece itself, transcending the selfish physicality of copulation.

As Martine and Peter’s composed intimacy flourishes, its energy begins to influence those around them, like a work of art reacting within its participants. Peter’s wife begins to engage in a flirtation with a client, breaking the assumed boundaries of the doctor patient relationship, and exposing them for the tenets of social artifice that they really are. Meanwhile, Peter’s wife’s daughter, from her first marriage, creates an aura of coy, flirtation with a tutor, speaking Italian as a language of love and betrayal, and inciting a barely disguised outrage and misogyny to break forth, unfettered by the pretention of polite conversation and etiquette. As the art of societal norms begin to unravel, the true emotions behind them burst forth, threatening to overtake and destroy the lives of those involved. Thus, the film ends with the completion of Martine’s film, and the re-encapsulation of naked intimacy, comfortably disguised in its more familiar solipsistic subjectivity.

Ry Russo-Young and Lena Dunham have artfully captured something quiet illusive in their examination of art and intimacy in Nobody Walks. Without bluntly stating the obvious, the film presents art in all of its many forms, both as the abstract idea as well as the societal norm, and tears way its clothing to reveal the terrifying body of intimacy itself. Love, as it is defined in the film, is an untamable energy, beautiful, hideous, and divine all at once. The characters that come into contact with it, through the means of artistic contrivance and intervention, are left battered and bruised, but all the more human because of it. The film’s subtleties are numerous, as are its subjects, which makes it all the more interesting and rewarding to watch, perhaps more than once. Nobody Walks may be a film posing as art posing as life, but if you can move beyond the pretentions of its subject matter and form, you’ll find one of the most deeply affecting and moving films to come out of late from within the independent film circuit.

Nobody Walks is available on Netflix Instant View, and is my Movies on Netflix: Recommendation of the Week.

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