It’s hard to say whether ”Nobody Walks” tells a story or just starts one (or several). A young, New York based filmmaker named Justine (Olivia Thirlby) arrives in Los Angeles at the invitation of a friend of a friend, sound artist Peter (John Krasinski), who’s offered to score her art film as a favour.
Peter lives in a beautiful house with his wife, psychologist Julie (Rosemarie DeWitt), son Dusty (Mason Welch) and Julie’s teenage daughter Kolt (India Ennenga). Peter also employs the handsome young David (Rhys Wakefield, doing much better here than the atrocious Sanctum 3D) as his assistant.
Everyone has their quiet crushes and temptations – possibly even Kolt’s middle age, slightly creepy Italian tutor. Kolt herself is holding a huge torch for the six pack-abbed David, and a successful but very insecure screenwriter client is putting moves on Julie at work.
When the winsome Martine enters the household, she’s going to stir up the pot of hormonal desire like a whirlwind, and it doesn’t help her cause that she seems the kind of girl to throw herself at any man who wants her. The first time we meet her she’s being driven to Peter’s house by the guy she was sitting next to on the plane and who’s taken their flirtation as an invitation to start undressing her before they’ve even got into his car.
She stays in Peter and Julie’s pool house while they work on her movie (a black and white concoction about insects having fights) and as Martine spends more time among the family, attractions grow in several directions. She and Peter give in to their desire for each other even though she’s already more or less dating David.
The beginning of the fallout from the affairs, temptations and betrayals comprises most of the plot, but it takes a long time to get there and when it does, most of the strands picked up and woven by Martine’s arrival are dropped again with little or no resolution. Whether writer Lena Dunham (the brains behind the hit TV series ”Girls”) or director Ry Russo-Young felt they’d said enough or weren’t terribly interested in the recriminations and healing that would inevitably follow isn’t clear, but the film ends as quietly and innocuously as it started.
Where it excels is in the technical artistry. It’s a story about movie sound effects people obviously made by someone with a love of the craft. During several scenes as Peter and Martine record and experiment with sounds, the texture and richness of someone rubbing their hand across porcelain or water sloshing in a pool are quite beautiful and you’ll really sink into the experience of them.
In fact the film looks and sounds beautiful throughout, the warm, happy tones of well-off LA professional life warm and inviting on screen. It just feels like it needed some more bone under the flesh. Whether it’s a more distinct climax and end point or more of a revelation about where Martine’s coming from is hard to say, but ”Nobody Walks” Suffers a little from George Lucas Syndrome – technically brilliant, narratively and structurally a little empty.