Opening 9 Jun 2022
Henry and Tilly introduce Dave (Dave Johns) and Fern (Alison Steadman), in a manner of speaking, although initially Fern’s attitude has a bit of a bite. Gradually, they warm up to each other; on their ninth dog walk in the North London parks, when Fern says, “Just listen to the woods – can’t get better than that,” Dave listens. His wife is dead, she is a divorcée; he has a son living abroad and a daughter locally, her daughter’s getting married abroad; he talks about his grandkids. They share, and compare memories from their so different pasts. Sometime around their 14th walk, Dave takes her to meet Marcy (Marsha Millar); later, Donna (Natalie Simpson) bosses her complacent dad, and Tilly feeling poorly compounds his financial issues. Fern takes a timeout. With all their walking and talking, it seems both are guilty of holding back – their well-lived lives are infused with complexities and peculiarities. Now, each one has to decide if she/he can forgive to be happy.
English writer-director Paul Morrison’s 23 Walks prods at people’s state of mind at that precise stage in life when, it seems, someone feels most vulnerable. The social topics presented and explored are, basically, universally shared. Just as, the protagonists’ behaviors fit the character’s personality, particularly the adult child “parenting” the parent. Steadman’s powerhouse performance, buttressed by Johns’ laidback portrayal is as commendable as the characters are likable floundering in a long-forgotten art – courting. Nicely assembled—David Katznelson camera, Bruce Green editing, and Gary Yershon music, Mit Herz und Hund is a refreshingly candid, yet a kind depiction of late-age romance that offers an entertaining stroll. (Marinell Haegelin)