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Jesse Shapiro’s debut feature concerns two young friends spending a day aimlessly wandering the streets of Los Angeles. A veritable love letter to the city in which it’s set, Nobody Walks in LA feels like a more mobile and less intellectual variation on My Dinner With Andre. But despite its decidedly modest nature, the film — as aimless as the pair’s wanderings — has its charms, thanks in large part to the appealing performances by its two leads.
The central characters are longtime friends Miles (Adam Shapiro) and Becca (Kim Shaw), each facing life crises. Miles has just suffered a broken engagement after discovering that his fiancée had cheated on him. Becca is pondering a move to New York City to start an art gallery with a friend, but feels guilty about leaving her widowed father.
RELEASE DATE Nov 30, 1999
After being summoned by his roommate, Becca discovers Miles immobile in bed. Initially resisting her efforts to rouse him from his depressed stupor, he eventually agrees to go for a walk. It turns into a full-day adventure around the city, with the couple ignoring their cellphones and traveling by foot, bus, subway and ultimately, and joyously, bicycle.
Their freewheeling conversation during all this concerns topics including Miles’ decrying the city’s obliteration of its past — he points to the “$600 million high school” that replaced the torn-down, historic Ambassador Hotel as a prime example — and the couple’s relationship itself. It turns out that both of them once had romantic crushes on the other, only at different times. But their friendship has endured nonetheless, with Becca triumphantly pointing out, “We proved When Harry Met Sally wrong!”
Providing a cinematic travelogue via excursions into neighborhoods, including Echo Park and Koreatown, as well as pointing out various landmarks, the film doesn’t neglect the less felicitous aspects of the city, including a large group of downtrodden people waiting in line for free food at a mission. The couple also runs into a variety of colorful characters, including an odd-looking subway passenger who tells Becca, “Your aura’s off” and advises her to “eat more beets.”
The daylong excursion turns contentious at one point, with the couple getting into a vicious argument over their respective life choices. But by the end, their friendship, and possibly more, has been affirmed.
Highly naturalistic, the dialogue can become tedious at times. But the performers breathe ample life into their characters, with Shapiro garnering comic mileage from Miles’ morose disgruntlement and Shaw making Becca’s bubbliness seriously sexy. And the writer/director exhibits an excellent ability to shoot quickly and efficiently in a wide variety of locations. Nobody Walks in LA doesn’t really go anywhere particularly meaningful, but it’s a reasonably pleasant cinematic journey nonetheless.
Distributor: Indie Rights
Production company: Broken Time Entertainment
Cast: Adam Shapiro, Kim Shaw
Director-screenwriter: Jesse Shapiro
Producers: Jeremy Elliott, Sarah Satow, Jesse Shapiro
Executive producers: Mark Noorzai, Charles Wessman, Paul Ollinger
Director of photography: John Frost
Editor: Adam Huebner
Composer: Alon Levitan
Not rated, 88 minutes
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