This review may contain spoilers, so proceed with caution if you haven’t seen it!
If you are after a rom-com for seniors, this’ll be right up your alley.
Emily (Diane Keaton), a widow of one year whose adult son Philip (James Norton of Happy Valley) has long flown the nest, works in a charity second-hand store, but lives in an apartment decorated in expensive shades of taupe across the street from Hampstead Heath, a municipal parkland much loved by Londoners for its wild aspect and terrific hilltop views.
Emily is an American whose late husband turned out to have been a bit of turd who had been cheating on her before he died, and who also squandered all their joint savings. She is supposedly in a very bad place. Her finances are in a mess. The roof of her very upmarket Hampstead mansion flat is leaking. She has no professional skills, or at least “none that matter”, and spends her days running the charity shop.
Donald “Tramp” (Brendan Gleeson) is a gruff, beefy loner who has been living in a self-made, homely shack on the edge of the Heath in the grounds of an old hospital. He grows his own vegetables and catches fish from the ponds. The developers are trying to have him evicted from his ‘paradise’ but he ignores their letters and writs. Donald is technically a squatter, having occupied a plot of land that neither belongs to him, nor was leased to him under any agreement with the owner.
After a somewhat incoherent series of emotional twists that see Donald being alternately rude and then charming and then rude again for very flimsy, artificial reasons, the two become a couple – especially when Emily discovers what a sensitive, literary soul Donald is underneath all that facial hair and scowling. Inevitably, once she has established that he has satisfactory standards of personal hygiene, they fall in love.
Hampstead lacks depth but it trips along sweetly and without any surprises, sustained by Keaton’s trademark scatterbrained charm (I swear she wore the same clothes in Annie Hall) and Gleeson’s gruff demeanour. The ending has a cute but totally predictable twist and a one-liner in the credits tells us that this film is loosely based on a true story.
ROK’S RATING: 2/5 glasses of bubbly