23 walks (12)

Romance strolls casually into view in a gently paced drama written and directed by Paul Morrison, which explores vacillations of the heart for sexagenarian dog owners who have been dealt losing hands in love.

Filmed on location in London and Hertfordshire, 23 Walks initially adheres to the promise of its title, captioning successive strolls on which the characters trade anecdotes and seek comfort.

There is a pleasing rhythm to dialogue in Morrison’s script and he occasionally mines a poetic one-liner during heart-to-hearts, like when one of the 60-somethings ruminates on dealing with grief: “It’s best to invite it in, make it your friend.”

Stand-up comedian Dave Johns, so magnificent in Ken Loach’s award-winning film I, Daniel Blake, and Alison Steadman bring these free-flowing confessionals to life with sincerity and conviction, hinting at the pain that could bind their lonely singletons.

When Morrison eventually discloses the sources of their anguish, his film surrenders some of its easy-going charm and plausibility to contrivance and emotional manipulation.

Rating: Three stars


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