I admire Tiny Furniture and some of Girls, but the art-brat characterizations and New York hipster conflicts of the Lena Dunham world arguably overstay their welcome in episodic form. But in cinema her voice is most effective. As written by Dunham, this quiet and seemingly trite and trendy indie picture surprisingly turns into a deft examination of the powerful force of female sexuality and the fallibility of the male libido.
Nobody Walks (2012) dir. Ry Russo-Young
Starring: Olivia Thirlby, John Krasinski, Rosemary DeWitt, Justin Kirk
By Alan Bacchus
Martine (Thirlby) is an attractive gal, a film director working on her own massively pretentious B&W art film about insects. Her work is less important than her demeanor. Early on when she arrives in L.A. we see her flirting with her seat partner and then vigorously making out with the stranger in the parking lot. She denies his desires for a quickie and goes on her way.
This scene, and the whole film for that matter, is shot with an observational, realist style which admirably misdirects to the very strong thematic statement, the idea of the four women in this film representing four stages of a woman’s sexual awareness, and the exploration of the powerful psychological effects on libidinous ID-powered men.
Martine arrives at the guest house of Peter (Krasinski) and Julie (DeWitt) and their two kids to live and sound edit her film with Peter. Martine’s unconcious sexuality is an immediate attraction to Peter, which doesn’t go unnoticed by Julie. Though while acting as a therapist for an egotistical film director, (Kirk) Julie herself is on the receiving end of sexual advances from her client. It's the same with Julie’s 16-year-old daughter Caroline, who is taking Italian lessons from a brazenly forthright Italian tutor.
The plot turns when Peter gives into Julie’s coy advances and has sex in the house. For Martine it’s just some casual sex, quickly forgotten. But for Peter it’s more, which causes his rational mind to unravel. Meanwhile, the events of Julie and Caroline run parallel to Peter and Julie’s issues, as the feminist themes admirable connect all these characters.
Director Russo-Young establishes a quiet and anti-dramatic tone early using familiar indie aesthetic tools. The film features grainy but rich and textured super 16mm format, grab-it-and-go b-roll footage of Los Angeles, and a melancholy ambient soundtrack by Fall On Your Sword (Lola Versus, Another Earth). While many of these American-indie relationship dramas, including Dunham’s own Tiny Furniture trend towards the esoteric and introspective to the conflicts of the characters, Russo-Young and Dunham leave us with a surprisingly bold feminist statement and a film which resonates as deep as any of the post-Mumblecore pictures.