Written by: Nicole Holofcener
Starring: Catherine Keener, Anne Heche, Todd Field, Liev Schreiber, Kevin Corrigan, Vincent Pastore
Ride or die often gets thrown out as a way to describe friends who will be at each other’s side no matter what. A comforting term to have the security of this particular person even when everything else in life comes with a level of uncertainty. In this directorial debut feature, Walking and Talking follows two friends in their efforts to assert some level of control in their lives and it comes with plenty of fun drama.
Lifelong friends Amelia (Catherine Keener) and Laura (Anne Heche) have been through it all together but currently sit at two different places in their lives. Ameilia perpetually struggles with her love life while Laura just recently got engaged to her longtime partner, Frank (Todd Field). With this new development bringing a change in their relationship, they must reckon with their own issues along with what their friendship will turn into.
Light in overall gravity but monumental on the individual level, Walking and Talking displays right away the type of specialness we can come to expect in a Nicole Holofcener feature. She manages to establish a loving friendship right from the beginning detailing what these two friends have shared in life and why them splitting up would be disastrous for them but also for us as the observers. Catherine Keener and Anne Heche immediately build wonderful chemistry together establishing a wonderful rapport and displaying everything these two have done for the other. None of it needs to be explained or explicitly stated, the feeling of it permeates the story wonderfully.
The main issue biting at both of them comes from their romantic relationships and how difficulties find their way even with their different lengths. With Amelia, it appears in the superficial issues where she wants someone to be with above all else. She tries to be picky at times but then capitulates when she finds someone who can treat her right on a basic level. This occurs with her dates with Bill (Kevin Corrigan). She even refers to him as “the ugly guy,” which becomes integral to the story moving forward. Amelia finds herself in the perpetual struggle of romance, while Laura has reached the apex but still cannot find satisfaction.
Every indicator narratively points to Laura and Frank having a wonderful relationship built on love and inside jokes the audience has no knowledge of. The two actors truly sell the dynamic between them, which makes it saddening when they begin to have difficulties leading up to their wedding. The discussions they have remain integral to crafting a long-lasting relationship but much of the trouble comes from Laura beginning to have fantasies about one of her clients and even allowing a waiter to flirt with her. Whether it be some last gasp at the freedom she has before marriage or not, it serves as the converse of Amelia who seemingly wants to eradicate the freedom of singlehood she endured for far too long.
Even with their relationship issues, the story lives and breathes by the connection between Amelia and Laura, which serves the film so well. They become the perfect chess pieces for Nicole Holofcener to find her writing and directorial style and it certainly comes out well overall as a feature. Some aspects feel like they’re lacking, especially compared to Holofcener’s more polished works in the future but as a first feature, it gets the job done. Walking and Talking also serves as the beginning of a wonderful collaborative relationship between Holofcener and Catherine Keener. With Keener appearing in all of Holofcener’s films moving forward, this film displays exactly what makes them such a dynamic duo that will continue to captivate whenever working together.
Early Holofcener and one to appreciate the beginnings of who has established themselves as a filmmaker with warm-hearted and funny stories to share with the world. Walking and Talking shows off the wonderful mixture of drama and comedy in order to tell a story making audience members laugh as much as sympathizing with the characters. Overall a moving tale about the ills of love no matter the length of time when an adult, but also the undying power of friendship that can unite two individuals through the absurdities and ridiculousness life can throw their way.