Riffing on the plot of Teorema (1968) and countless other parables of strangers disrupting a host family’s lives, Ry Russo-Young’s drama concerns a beautiful, intense youth who beguiles an entire bourgeois household, upending their belief systems in the process. Pasolini’s art-house potboiler gave us a smoldering Terence Stamp; in Russo-Young’s version (cowritten by current It girl Lena Dunham), this figure is played by a moping Olivia Thirlby in a pixie haircut. Her character, Martine, is an NYC experimental filmmaker who comes to Los Angeles to finish her latest project. No sooner has she settled into the bohemian home of a sound designer, Peter (John Krasinski), and his therapist wife, Julie (Rosemarie DeWitt), then the young woman is necking with Peter’s assistant, bewitching their young son and attracting the attention of Peter himself.
All of this rampant seduction feels limply artificial, from Martine’s hilariously clichéd b&w video of bugs to Krasinski’s somnolent attempts at arousal, his O-face looking more like a yawn. The only actor to exhibit something resembling a libido is Dylan McDermott, whose swaggering-dick cameo as Julie’s ex briefly shakes the film out of its slumber. While awkward sex is Dunham’s stock-in-trade, the clumsy affairs here undermine the film’s theme of intercourse-as-awakening. For a film about sexual conquest, Nobody Walks is a frustratingly flaccid affair.
Follow R. Emmet Swenney on Twitter: @r_emmet