Hampstead, review: ‘Gives you the etiquette of romance where the passion should be’

Brendan Gleeson and Diane Keaton in Hampstead. Picture: Nick Wall

Brendan Gleeson and Diane Keaton in Hampstead. Picture: Nick Wall - Credit: Archant

Diane Keaton and Brendan Gleeson give admirable performances in this Hampstead based romcom, but nothing is seen through and the dialogue is weak

Notting Hill had one, so why wouldn’t there be an NW3 set romcom about an American lady hooking up with a Brit a little beneath her in the social standings?

Gallingly though, our one isn’t nearly as good as their one. It is at least true to its postcode. What else could a film called Hampstead be about but property prices?

Donald (Brendan Gleeson) is a wild man who lives in a shack on Hampstead Heath. Emily (Diane Keaton) is a widow living in a desirable Heath side flat, whose husband’s death has left her financially strapped and wondering if she will be able to afford to go on living there, as well as being a little lost as to how to fill her days.

In most any other part of London some kind of paid employment would be an obvious two-birds one-stone solution but she decides on a good deed – protecting Donald from the developers who want to evict him and build unaffordable housing on the site.

The film’s opening credits run over a shot of a kid flying a kite on the Heath. The letters appear on screen and then flutter away like leaves on the breeze. It’s very appropriate for a film in which nothing sticks or is seen through.

In the editing suite they decided that they should just concentrate on the only elements in the film that actually work – the two stars. If you tend to find Diane Keaton annoying then you will here too, but I enjoyed her Annie-Hall-in-later-life persona. Her scenes with Gleeson have a spark.

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Given the role he plays, Gleeson is magnificent. You don’t judge actors by the good roles but by the stinkers and he gives life and dignity to dialogue that should have been left on the morgue slab.

They can’t save it though because there’s nothing here. It’s painfully British: it gives you the etiquette of romance in the place where the passion should be.

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Rating: 2/5