VOD film review: 23 Walks
Ivan | On 28, Jan 2021
Director: Paul Morrison
Cast: Alison Steadman, Dave Johns
Watch 23 Walks online in the UK: Sky Cinema / NOW / Curzon Home Cinema / Apple TV (iTunes) / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / Google Play
When Henry met Tillie should be the name for this gentle, understated romance, which follows two dog walkers as they cross paths on Hampstead Heath. Henry is a Yorkshire Terrier, whose owner is Fern (Alison Steadman). Tillie is a German Shepherd, whose owner is Dave (Dave Johns). Crossing paths one day, she tells him off for not keeping Tillie on the lead. One thing leads to another and they start to embark on a relationship.
Films about mature couples finding love are relatively few and far between, with As Good As It Gets and Last Chance Harvey leading the way (or, for something less upbeat, Michael Haneke’s Amour). 23 Walks continues that tradition with an impressively low-key vibe but no end of warmth.
A lot of that comes down to the cast, with Johns irrepressible in the role of a well-meaning optimist and Steadman bringing a convincing caution to the part of a woman who’s been scarred and afraid to trust anyone else for a long time. The film has a real understanding of how baggage can build up over years, from old relationships to lost loved ones. The film’s nuanced exploration of companionship to combat loneliness – both through pets and through human partners – makes for a likeable affair, and there’s even a tasteful bedroom scene that proves the film takes the realities of mature dating seriously.
It’s a shame, then, that the script doesn’t alway know how to build on that to make something with a little more substance. Writer-director Paul Morrison captures the sunlit glow of London’s greener areas with a beautiful eye, but away from the canine escapades, the film’s bite is worse than its bark. Numbering sequences, a running motif of speaking in Spanish, a singing sequence and a subplot involving housing don’t quite fit in with the sweet tale of two sexagenarians awkwardly playing draughts. So no, it’s not as good as it gets, but perhaps coming to terms with that is all too apt for the movie’s themes.
23 Walks is available on Sky Cinema. Don’t have Sky? You can also stream it on NOW, as part of an £11.99 NOW Cinema Membership subscription. For the latest Sky TV packages and prices, click the button below.
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