If this year’s inaugural Sundance London can be accused of exporting some of its US counterpart’s more underwhelming films, then Ry Russo-Young’s dreadful Nobody Walks (2012) has to be considered the main offender. Every stereotypical American indie trope and cliché is present and waiting before being promptly flogged to death, leaving behind a hollow, vacuous shell that epitomises style-over-substance filmmaking. Martine (Olivia Thirlby), a 23-year-old visual artist from New York City, arrives in Los Angeles to stay with some arty, wildly privileged family friends in the hip and hilly community of Silver Lake.
Peter (John Krasinski), the father, has agreed to help Martine complete sound design on her experimental ‘insect film’ as a favour to his wife (Rosemarie DeWitt). However, almost immediately her arrival sparks a surge of sexual energy that awakens suppressed impulses in everyone and forces them to confront their own fears and desires. Despite the potential alt. charm of its Lena Dunham-penned screenplay, Nobody Walks seems completely devoid of originality and wit from start to finish. As soon as the archetypal, promiscuous usurper is introduced into the family dynamic, not a soul in the audience will have any doubts about the order of proceedings. Thirlby tries desperately to seek out some deeper meaning, but Greta Gerwig she most certainly isn’t.
Elsewhere, Krasinski (recognisable to UK audiences for his role as Jim Halpert in The US Office) blunders his way through the film, seemingly unsure of whether he’s bored, horny or a mixture of the two. His clumsy performance is most exposed in a dinner table scene taken straight out of Lisa Cholodenko’s The Kids Are All Right (2010), attempting – yet failing – to put on a brave face whilst everyone around him is giving the old ‘gooey eyes’ to each other.
Sundance has long been a superb exponent for new American independent talent, but the festival programmers undoubtedly dropped the ball with Nobody Walks. Beneath its visual sheen and attractive cast lies a dull, mawkish indie-by-numbers that has somehow bluffed its way to the big time – in retrospect, a 90-minute cut of Martine’s ultra-pretentious insect installation piece would have been the lesser of two evils.
For more Sundance London 2012 coverage, simply follow this link.