Arthur (Robert Daws), Geoffrey (Nicholas Farrell), and Andy (Richard Graham) first walked the 177 miles of Offa's Dyke in nine days, straddling the English-Welsh border, 20 years ago as law students. They vowed to do it again 20 years later, no matter what. But they didn't plan on the 40 year old wife and mother, Janet (Pauline Quirke), with a mid-life crisis joining them. The 177 mile walk soon becomes a life changing adventure, while dredging up secrets and long-buried antagonisms. As well as an unlikely friendship.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Limp and unengaging from the start, its comedy somewhat forced, Arthur's Dyke spends too much time going nowhere while its characters trek through the countryside. Short of genuine characterisations, the script tries to enhance each character with a set of circumstances. When it's not heavy-handed - as with Janet's sneering, mean-spirited husband at home - it's plodding.
Pauline Quirke is an asset to the film, though, a likeable and tangible character who invites our sympathy and our admiration. She starts off as the hanger on, a rotund, middle aged woman who barges into the men's reunion outing, on a minor escapade from her depressing home life. She turns out to be the strength.
The despicable Arthur, a married, small town lawyer and full time jerk and womaniser, is her direct counterpart. Geoffrey, on the other hand, is a brow beaten businessman with a keen young woman tagging along after him and a soppy personality.
A couple of heartfelt grievances - one about a lost romance, another about the unromantic side of womanhood - are trotted out to give the film some substance, but they're not enough.
Nor are their little adventures, which seem like lifebelts tossed into the sinking screenplay. The screenplay follows the map of most road movies, in which the characters reveal secrets and take a symbolic journey, but the elements don't satisfy; nor does the whining soundtrack help.
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ARTHUR'S DYKE (M)
CAST: Pauline Quirke, Robert Dawes, Nicholas Farrell, Richard Graham, Warren Clarke, Dennis Waterman, Brian Conley, Rebecca Lacey
PRODUCER: Ron Bareham, Steve Sheen
DIRECTOR: Gerry Poulson
SCRIPT: Robb Stringle
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Seamus Corcoran
EDITOR: Paddy Payne
MUSIC: Francis Haines
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Humphrey Bangham, Helen Scott
RUNNING TIME: 108 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Rialto
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: July 1, 2004
VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Warner Home Video
VIDEO RELEASE: January 7, 2005