Monday 28 December 2020

Movie Review: Hampstead (2017)

A romantic drama with traces of humour, Hampstead is a bland love story lacking both passion and the quirkiness it desperately strives for.

In London, Emily Walters (Diane Keaton) is a widow struggling with loneliness and mounting financial problems. She lives across the street from a derelict abandoned hospital site slated for redevelopment. Emily spots Donald Horner (Brendan Gleeson), a gruff tramp-like man living off the land in a ramshackle compound on the hospital grounds. He is facing eviction, but Emily first befriends him then convinces him to fight the eviction in court. Their friendship turns serious as he becomes a cause célèbre

Inspired by the true story of Harry Hallowes, Hampstead enjoys idyllic London locations around the Hampstead Heath neighbourhood, and little else. Imprudently following in the footsteps of the equally flat The Lady In The Van, writer Robert Festinger and director Joel Hopkins aim for a celebration of British eccentricity with a dash of Hollywood but miss the mark entirely.

The Donald Horner character is immediately scrubbed clean and revealed to be a decent and tender man simply comfortable living alone. Absent any genuine rough edges, Hampstead is just a chemistry-free attempted romance between a Diane Keaton retread characters and a recluse. Predictable moments of tension are derived from overbearing neighbour Fiona (Lesley Manville), while the spots of humour arrive courtesy of accountant James (Jason Watkins) attempting to straighten Emily's finances with the real intentions of ruffling her bed sheets.

Hampstead bumbles along quaint pathways searching for content, never overcoming the nagging suspicion that the buried corpses in the manicured cemetery may well be having more fun.

All Ace Black Movie Blog Reviews are here.

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