Film review: 23 Walks

PUBLISHED: 10:20 17 September 2020

Alison Steadman and Dave Johns in 23 Walks

Alison Steadman and Dave Johns in 23 Walks


Real life north Londoner Alison Steadman plays a lonely pensioner who strikes up a romance with fellow dog walker Dave Johns, but some dark painful secrets lurk

Alison Steadman and Dave Johns in 23 WalksAlison Steadman and Dave Johns in 23 Walks

Dave is one of those garrulous Northern types who’ll start up a conversation with strangers at a bus stop. Steadman is a North Londoner who, like all good metropolitans, knows better than to talk to strangers so gives him very short shrift when he attempts to be friendly while out dog walking in a Finchley park.

He persists, and gradually something more than friendship develops between these two singletons approaching retirement.

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The title suggests the drama will play out over a set number of strolls, but Morrison’s script doesn’t stick with that gimmick and we probably only see a third of the titular 23 walks.

Alison Steadman and Dave Johns in 23 WalksAlison Steadman and Dave Johns in 23 Walks

The film will be celebrated for what it is not, for what is absent: it’s not loud, not youthful, not glamorous. But another key absence is that it is not gentle.

Usually, big screen oldies are eased through their story arcs, but 23 Walks gives each of them some hard slaps of real pain. It’s less fun than you expect, but it is a quietly devastating portrait of social isolation, grief and loneliness.

3/5 stars

Directed by Paul Morrison. Starring Dave Johns, Alison Steadman, Nathalie Simpson, Marsha Millar and Graham Cole. In cinemas. Running time: 102 mins

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