Hampstead

**1/2

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Hampstead
"Predictable and embarrassing, despite a cast that deserves better,"

Who wants Notting Hill for oldies? Rom-coms come in all sizes. Let's not be ageist about this.

Diane Keaton is everyone's kooky grandma. She can do no wrong. Ever since Annie Hall she has filled that gap between Francis Ford Coppola and Woody Allen. She represents an independent spirit amongst the nip'n'tuckers with humour and the hint of devil may care (less).

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Here she plays an American widow, living in one of those converted mansions beside Hampstead Heath in North London, filled with snobbish toffos (cliche alert!), headed by Lesley Manville, best known for her work with Mike Leigh.

The film is predictable and embarrassing, despite a cast that deserves better, based apparently on real events. Living on the Heath, or rather in a self-made corrugated hut in the woods, is a grumpy old man (Brendan Gleeson), beardy and scruff, who just wants to be left alone. He's called The Tramp by Keaton's so called friends but is well read, intelligent enough to know he doesn't want anything to do with modern life and keeps himself out of sight and reasonably clean..

The authorities, meaning the local council on behalf of developers, want him gone. They send letters to this effect with a warning that if he doesn't comply he will be forced out and probably jailed. He tears up the letters and carries on. This is known as a two fingered response.

Young protesters take up his case and it becomes national news. Meanwhile - yes, you've guessed it - Keaton feels drawn to his predicament on a personal level. The Tramp wants no help and no visitors, although succumbs to Keaton's sympathetic support. A relationship of sorts follows.

Tally yo ho ho! Chilled champers by the fishing hole? Cuddles in the attic? A court case with Simon Callow as the judge? Feel good or feel ridiculous? Bring on the support cast with James Norton as her conventional son (boring) and Jason Watkins as her accountant who wants more than a financial reward for services rendered (inspired comic acting).

"I have nothing of value to offer anyone," Keaton says.

She's wrong. She has so much. Maybe not here.

Reviewed on: 22 Jun 2017
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Hampstead packshot
An older man, known as The Tramp, who lives in a homemade shack in North London woods attracts support and something more from a lonely widow and a bunch of protesters when he is ordered to leave.
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