Words Deb C.

“It’s not a walk in the park. Nor a film just aimed at our aging population.”

Two late middle- aged Brits walk in the parks of North London. Fern (Alison Steadman) prickly and protective and Dave (Dave Johns) a retired nurse desperate for companionship and love, meet through the agency of their dogs (No need for Bumble or Tinder here) all you need is a feisty terrier and a gentle shaggy German shepherd. They say dogs reflect their owners’ characters and that certainly is the case here. The terrier (as terriers do) quick to say their piece and the Shepherd loyal and steady.

Over these 23 walks and the change in seasons, Fern slowly, and in fits and starts, comes to see that Dave may in fact be a man who can be trusted. Dave endures and continues to offer kindness and understanding while undergoing trials that would break many. At times he seems almost unbelievably understanding as Fern reacts angrily to perceived mistruths.

Each character carries baggage that is slowly revealed, complicated family relationships, long held griefs, all the experiences that a longer life contains. This autumn relationship is not only sweet and hopeful. The parks Fern and Dave walk show the bleakness of winter and the change of seasons to be a natural occurrence, just like the cycle of happy ups and bitter downs of any person trying to communicate over long- held barriers.

The beauty of the English landscape creates a fitting setting for the hope that each new human connection can bring. Loneliness is many peoples’ constant companion and this film at least attempts to show the possibilities that can abound. Fern and Dave learn the happiness of creating new memories not just reliving old ones. Perhaps we could all dance through the woods singing “Mud, glorious mud.”