23 Walks (Paul Morrison, 2019)

In this romantic comedy for pensioners, you have the collision of two film styles.

In one corner, Alison Steadman, walking a yappy terrier and veteran of Mike Leigh (and too many beneath her Radio 4 sitcoms).

In the other corner, Dave Johns, walking an alsatian and veteran of Ken Loach.

Both clearly lonely, but damaged by earlier relationships, dogwalkers Fern and Dave get over initial hostility into a gentle falling in love, but this, being a romcom, cannot run smooth. And both have secrets.

The problem is that Fern’s problem is a Mike Leigh problem and Dave’s problem is a whole set of Ken Loach ones and the film never quite gells the two together. Steadman gives a performance that the script frankly doesn’t deserve and Johns pulls at the heart strings. And the director throws in a few drone shots so we feel this was worth seeing in the cinema.

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