The bittersweet 23 Walks is an almost archetypal Britflick as it brings together dogwalking and love in later years to gently moving effect
“Can I give him a treat”
Paul Morrison’s 23 Walks fits firmly in the mould of the best Britflicks as it puts a national treasure (Alison Steadman) through alternately heart-rending and heart-warming travails in pursuit of late-years romance. Morrison’s conceit sees Fern and Dave (Dave Johns) meet-cute on a dog walk and then follows them over the course of 22 more walks, as a friendship grows between them and promises to develop into something more.
It is gently done but in a really rather touching manner. They’ve both gone through the mill in their lovelives to date and so there’s a natural scepticism about the nature of whatever it is that is building between them. But the gradual unfolding of their stories, as they relax into sharing them with each other, aided by the adorable dogs that they both walk across the beautiful surroundings of Hampstead Heath, feels authentically earned.
You might see some of the plot points coming a mile off, you might wonder if any other characters might get more than cursory development but ultimately, the mellowness of the film is what wins you over. Steadman and Johns connect well and there’s a real honesty to the fears they confess around the idea of starting something new in their 60s. Gently lovely.