After the long months of lockdown we’ve all come to love our natural surroundings and our local walks have helped keep up sane. Newly released film 23 Walks by Barnet-based Oscar-nominated Paul Morrison covers a lot of familiar territory. Literally.
Alison Steadman and Dave Johns (Daniel Blake) play Fern and Dave who meet while out and about with their dogs and gradually get to know each other over the course of 23 walks. Filmed in and around Chipping Barnet and Hadley, local parks and open spaces (as well as the dogs) also play a leading role, and especially King George’s Fields with its stunning backdrop of London.
The film has a tenderness and subtlety with the characters tentatively revealing themselves as the seasons progress. With a gentle pace and rhythm, it touches on loneliness, mental health, financial struggles, the housing crisis, the need for companionship (whether canine or human) and the personal baggage and family complications that accumulate with age, but with the healing and therapeutic power of nature.
23 Walks is a beautifully crafted and intimate film and we (biased) locals will enjoy spotting so many much-loved familiar corners and views.
(Barnet residents might also be amused to read The Guardian review of the film that describes Dave as living near Hampstead Heath! It’s not the only attractive green space in North London.)