Released: 26th July
Seen: 11th August
With all the movies out of the cinema, I’m noticing more and more of the replacements seem to be these quiet little films that might’ve gone straight to DVD or just been shown once on Sundays for seniors’ tea screenings. Little quiet films like Love Sarah and The Secret: Dare To Dream are so small and quiet that they’d probably never even be noticed on a normal screening schedule but we’re not on a normal schedule anymore, which is how a background noise film like 23 Walks can find its way onto a big screen.
23 Walks follows Dave (Dave Johns) and Fern (Alison Steadman) over the course of 23 dog walks where they go from complete strangers to forming a relationship. Throughout the course of the 23 walks the two learn more about each other’s lives, keep secrets from each other and go through a gamut of emotions, all while two adorable puppies run about on screen and steal all the attention.
With two lead performances that just radiate charm, for the first few of the ‘walks’ (each walk is marked by a counter in the top corner of the film) there’s something interesting taking place. The style of a series of vignettes that show slow improvement is a fun way to get to know the characters and gives the film its own unique pacing. At first this gets you invested, curious to see how the two main characters are going to get along and where these walks will lead… and then, at some point, something shifts and the intrigue fades.
Maybe it was when it felt like the timing was off, maybe it was how oddly quick things seemed to move, maybe it was the subplot involving Dave’s wife but at some point around the halfway mark the film just went from sweet to kind of boring for me. They certainly try to maintain interest by throwing in things like dog cancer or potential eviction but after a while the slow pace of the film goes from a slow pace to just being kind of dull.
The performances never lose their charm, I dare say that without those two leads the entire film would’ve been unwatchable. They both have natural chemistry and you definitely want to see them get together, but by the time that happens there’s a chance you might not be fully interested in the film itself anymore. It’s kind of sad because when they actually get to the full romance part it’s sweet, you don’t often get to see films where people of a certain age get to have an actual sex life and it’s nice that they put that on film, if only the film managed to maintain interest up to that moment.
23 Walks is certainly sweet and has moments where it stands out as having potential but after a while it just becomes background noise, something to put on the TV and look at occasionally when a badly framed shot of the two doggies pops up. It never drops down to being actually bad, but it never quite keeps the momentum the opening promises.