23 Walks (M) - 102 minutes
Scenic manufactured pap for the elderly.
That, in a nutshell, is 23 Walks, which promised much but delivered little.
Two lonely people connect after a shaky start and try to make something of their relationship.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a movie without a number of obstacles.
Dave (Dave Johns – I, Daniel Blake) is a retired mental health care nurse with a couple of grown up children, including a bossy daughter.
Fern (Alison Steadman) is a twice married, part-time secretary, who also had a couple of kids.
Kind-hearted, he is longing for companionship and a meaningful involvement.
She is wary, fearful of getting hurt again and subject to mood swings.
They meet as they are walking in opposite directions with their respective faithful companions.
Hers, Henry, is a three-year-old Yorkshire terrier.
His, Tillie, is a much older shepherd, a rescue dog.
Hers is on a leash, while his is not, hence my reference to a less than auspicious beginning.
As the film’s title suggests, as Dave and Fern continue to meet up over time with their dogs, gradually their number of walks together mounts.
But truth be told, both are holding on to secrets, which threaten to derail any lasting bond.
Driven by clichés, try as I did to enjoy and give myself over to 23 Walks, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was being taken for a ride.
Undoubtedly the best thing about it was the setting in woodland in north London and cinematography thereof by David Katznelson.
Unfortunately, the magnificent picture-perfect surrounds aren’t anywhere near enough to overcome the clunky scripting.
That is the work of Paul Morrison, who also directs his first feature in more than a decade.
From go to whoa the whole thing feels staged, rather than natural and free flowing.
Good as they may be in other vehicles, it frequently appears as if Johns and Steadman are delivering rehearsed lines.
While I don’t doubt that 23 Walks will appeal to some of the older generation, I believe they have been short changed.
I am afraid I was left bitterly disappointed by what could have been – arguably should have been – something decidedly more special.
Rated M, it scores a 5 out of 10.