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.
Continue reading: Hampstead Review
Will and Lynn (Owen and Keener) are parents of three lively, independent-minded kids. Peter (Curnutt) is just heading off to university, 14-year-old Annie (Liberato) is starting high school and Katie (DeButch) is still too young to understand much of what happens next. Annie is chatting online with Charlie, a teen in another city who slowly becomes her closest confidant. So she's a bit startled when he confesses that he's 20. Then 25. Then he agrees to meet her and turns out to be closer to 35 (Coffey). But he loves her and makes her feel beautiful.
Continue reading: Trust Review
The film takes place in a small Maine community called Camden. Here, it's not all that uncommon to see chipped wooden houses on every other corner or sleepy-eyed churches that feature old rusty bells hanging in the steeple. The aura of small-town life is apparent and could pass for a Norman Rockwell painting. Among this quaint town's residents are a prototypical middle-aged couple named Matt and Ruth Fowler (Tom Wilkinson and Sissy Spacek). Matt is a distinguished physician and native Mainer. New Yorker Ruth is a high school choral music teacher who enjoys her occupation. The Fowlers have one child named Frank (Nick Stahl), a college graduate student studying architecture, who has returned home for the summer while working as a lobsterman to earn some extra money.
Continue reading: In The Bedroom Review
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