Hampstead

"Good"

Hampstead Review


Deliberately appealing to older audiences, this undemanding comedy-drama comes with a hint of social relevance in its true story about an outcast who takes on the system in a leafy corner of London. While the script is too thin to make much of the premise, the film at least benefits from the likeable presence of Diane Keaton and Brendan Gleeson in the lead roles, plus a lively supporting cast.

Keaton plays Emily, an American widow living in the posh village on the edge of Hampstead Heath. Her late husband left her with a lot of debt, which her grown son Philip (James Norton) is helping her sort through. And her neighbour Fiona (Lesley Manville) is trying to set her up with an accountant (Jason Watkins) who has romantic inclinations. But Emily is much more intrigued by the homeless Irishman Donald (Gleeson) living in the lushly overgrown grounds of an abandoned hospital. And when she realises that developers want to build a glassy block of expensive flats there, she kicks into action with the help of a quirky young friend (Hugh Skinner).

Director Joel Hopkins keeps everything picturesque and twinkly as the story gently tips into a courtroom drama with an accompanying romance. Despite its basis in fact, there's little about this film that's remotely believable, not that it will matter to the core audience in search of some warm escapism. They'll enjoy the squeaky clean story and the stylised version of an England furnished with impeccably matching antiques and huge bouquets of flowers. And the cast makes it watchable. Keaton does her usual kooky thing, smart but clumsy, with perfect timing in her interaction with everyone around her. There may not be much chemistry with Gleeson, but he gives the tetchy Donald plenty of scruffy charm.

The colourful side characters add some welcome spark to each scene, being careful to avoid stealing focus from the stars. This keeps everything moving along amiably from one silly scene to the next. Along the way, Robert Festinger's script plays very loosely with the real events as well as bigger themes like corporate greed and the modernisation of historically picturesque communities. These things are present in the story, but never remotely explored, which is a bit annoying when they're such resonant, urgent issues at the moment, especially in a heritage site like Hampstead village. But no, these issues are merely background wallpaper for a rather feeble romantic-comedy. Just smile and go with it.

Watch the trailer for Hampstead:



Facts and Figures

Genre: Comedies

Production compaines: The Weinstein Company, Ecosse Films, Scope Pictures, Motion Picture Capital

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director: Joel Hopkins

Producer: Robert Bernstein,

Starring: as Emily Walters, as Donald Horner, Elizabeth Conboy as Posh Lady, as Steve Crowley

Contactmusic


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