Thursday, October 18, 2012

Film Review - Nobody Walks

I'm not a prude - at least I don't think I am - but lately I've been wondering about the proliferation of movies that involved people cheating on their spouses and how it's presented on screen.

A few years ago Michael Douglas starred in a film called Solitary Man about a man who is given only a few months to live, and decides to go out and leave his old life behind, divorce his wife and essentially have his mid-life crisis adventure while there’s still time left.  The writer/directors claimed they were trying to show how wrong it was, but yet I didn't get that vibe from the film.  Instead I saw it as a man trying to find himself even if it meant leaving his wife and sleeping with a much younger woman.  And yet, I felt the writer/directors were trying to hide the fact that the guy was actually living the life they wanted to live. Instead they had to have a moral, a lesson as to why it's so wrong just so someone in Hollywood would distribute it.

Do all films need a message, a moral, a lesson?  It looks that way.  And, sadly, some films seem to have the standard mantra be more of a veil over the real story.  The moral or lesson that they try to pitch to audiences is that it’s wrong to cheat on a loved one, but yet I don't see that as the real story.  To me the true theme seems to be in some cases that it’s okay to do certain things that society and morality and government think is wrong.

Nobody Walks gave me the same feeling.  There's this desire to cheat, to throw away the rules and have relations with anyone.  It's okay.

It's okay.

It's okay to give in to your desires.  It's what happens.  It's acceptable.  Granted not everyone in the film does so.  So then the question I'm pondering is: who is wrong?  The person who did give in or the one who didn't?

Here’s the plot:  A twenty-three year-old artist from New York City comes to stay with her friend's family in Los Angeles while working on an art film for a gallery opening.  The reason she is there is because Peter (John Krasinsky), a married, 40-something is a sound engineer who is working with her on the final cut of the film.  Her presence ignites passions within practically the entire family and anyone else who encounters her or enters that household.

There's no real bad guys in this film.  You find your allegiances vacillating between all the characters.  You cheer for them one minute and criticize them the next.

But in the end there's no lesson.  No moral.  No right or wrong.  In some ways it's refreshing.  Why disguise your own explorations with a lecture?

And while it's never boring, it does make me wonder what the theme is?  Is it the carefree energy emitted by the young Martine that these people crave and find themselves connecting to?  Is she an innocent party or a somewhat knowing catalyst?  Or, in the end, is she just another chink in the fidelity armor?

Is marriage all that it is cracked up to be?  If we watch enough films will we finally decide that it's okay to sleep around, that it's socially acceptable?

When the gay population first demanded same sex marriages, I was surprised.  I’m not against it at all.  I totally understand the point of it, but with the institution of marriage crumbling for straight people, and Hollywood constantly showing us infidelity, how long will it be before people stop getting married altogether?  Is this battle a moot point?  Perhaps we can all “live in sin”.  It might be cheaper that way.

Some people will deny the influence the film industry (or Hollywood in particular) has on society.  I think they have a strong influence in TV shows as well as film.  I think its power is highly underestimated.  If these themes in films continue to play out, will monogamy really matter anymore?

Everyone’s forgiven or forgotten Bill Clinton’s transgressions.  So it is okay?

I would really like to know, because perhaps the bad guys in these films are the people who resist the temptation or the people who actually are hurt as a result of these affairs, the betrayed spouse or partner who winds up being angry, cold or rude, or - in some cases - vengeful.

Is the film industry trying to change society?  Or do they want us to believe that art is imitating life?

What better platform to push a viewpoint?  So many writers, directors and producers all after the same goal, all sharing the same theme.

To prove my point even further, take a look at all the pot smoking that occurs in most films.  It shows up in Nobody Walks as well.  Is it a veiled statement about the forty-somethings in this film trying to cling to their carefree pasts?  Or is it a statement from the filmmakers that pot should be legalized, because - as they depict it - it’s no different than having a couple of beers.  Everyone seems to think just as clearly as when they were sober.  No munchies or staring at the paint on the walls.  Everyone seems to be in control.

Is that realistic?

The film industry would like us to believe that films like these are art imitating life.  In some cases I would agree, but when certain themes are used so often, I start to wonder.  Is it a lack of imagination, just a bunch of filmmakers following a trend that seems to work again and again (e.g. sort of like remaking old TV shows into films because they have no other ideas)?  Or is it a want or desire to send a statement to society that we shouldn’t be so strict about monogamy and drugs.

Again, I'm not a prude.  I'm not going to preach that this is all bad.  But the casual presentation of these subjects makes me wonder what the message really is in these films.