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There has been a recent upswing in the walking tour romance genre, where two young people hit the hotspots of a designated city as they walk and talk and learn about each other and themselves. Made famous in the Richard Linklater Before Trilogy, the films allow a number of interesting settings for characters to explore as they unfold their hearts.
Nobody Walks In LA is the latest, an indie film that may not have the scale of some larger productions but does what it intends to well, delivering an honest and affectionate homage to the city under an admittedly charming story. While it pokes some fun at the tropes of the city and some of the people that live there, including the lifestyle, the low-key personal attention to the characters keeps it compelling.
The story starts with Becca (Kim Shaw) arriving at her longtime friends Miles’ (Adam Shapiro) house, summoned by his roommate. He’s depressed, hiding in his bed, withdrawn and hating life. She has some issues of her own as well, but comes to the rescue to try and get him out of his slump. She convinces him to take a walk and pretend it was like when they were young, so no phones, and no cars, taking only mass transit and skipping about the city in search of landmarks as they open up to each other. And open up they do.
Written and directed by Jesse Shapiro, in his feature film debut, Nobody Walks In LA is a loosely-structured stroll that feels surprisingly natural, its casual filmmaking style and seemingly spontaneous moments mostly work in its favor. On a quest to find the most beautiful and most ugly things in the city, the two broach all the typical topics that lead to some inevitable revelations, some that strike familiar and others not so much, all accompanied by a few choice tunes. It’s not groundbreaking stuff, but it is fun, even if slips into a few of the trapping of the genre a few too many times.
What makes it work most though are the performances with both Shaw and Shapiro finding the right tone in two bright and lively turns that feel natural and unscripted. Certainly some of it feels intentional if not purposeful, but as a story like this is predestined to be on rails, Becca and Miles are at least characters that make it work. The two are both at a crossroads in their young lives as he deals with a possible breakup with his fiancé and she considers a move to New York to pursue a dream, leaving her widower father behind. As their own unspoken attraction to each other becomes apparent, their conversations become heavier and even combative. It’s these moments that lend some edge to the story and keep it grounded. It’s surprising how much that matters.
Nobody Walks In LA is a small experience and like those that have influenced it, is dialogue driven. While some of it clings too tightly to the expectations, there is much here that feels fresh and two winning performances make this a pleasant, worthwhile watch, which if anything, will have you longing to step outside and let your feet take you somewhere new.
Movie description: Nobody Walks In LA is a 2017 comedy romance about some old friends who while facing some tough choices, decide to take a break and spend the day walking around the city.
Director(s): Jesse Shapiro
Actor(s): Adam Shapiro, Kim Shaw, Peter Breitmayer
Genre: Drama, Romance