Monday, 26 June 2017

Hampstead Film Review

I watched Hampstead by Love Punch director Joel Hopkins. With Diane Keaton as Emily, an American widow left financially high and dry by her slick and unfaithful husband after he has the audacity to die. She's living in genteel poverty in a lovely Hampstead flat where the roof leaks, but let's keep that quiet from the other residents as she cannot actually afford to pay her share for a new roof.

Unfairly or not the residents of wealthy Hampstead don't seem too interested in saving the planet, but are deeply interested in pulling an old, but beautiful hospital next door down to make luxury flats. Thus improving their property prices even more. And slap bang in the middle of this plot is Donald, played by Brendan, Mad-Eye Moody, Gleeson, who has been living in his homemade shack for 17 years. Yes count them, 17 years.

But it's only recently that he has become a blot in the idyllic foliage. And it's upto Lesley Manville to rally the Hampstead busybodies and get out there campaigning to have him evicted for her property developer husband. But a funny thing happens one night when Emily is foraging in the communal attic because she spies this man bathing in a wild water pool on the Heath, and on another occasion she sees him being attacked and calls the police. So when she gets out campaigning she decides to go call on the man. And far from being a hovel, his little patch is an idyllic rustic hideaway.

Emily is a little lost in her own life with son James Norton actively trying to give her meaning since the death of his father, and Lesley Manville trying to find her a suitor. Jason Watkins presents himself as an eager accountant who is very keen. But Emily finds herself attracted to the bearded, but unexpectedly clean Donald.

Diane Keaton wore a great wardrobe of what looked like Margaret Howell clothes, and like all of us hit with a mountain of bills, decides to spend her cash on, take note ladies, next season's fashion accessory; the beret. But sensibly going for the £125 one rather than the one that costs over £400.

Emily urges the community to get behind the shack, Hugh Skinner a particularly lovely, if slightly dim/dyslexic, active campaigner. To the irk of her busybody friends. Culminating in a court case with their barrister Adeel Akhtar and judge Simon Callow. The case depends on whether Donald has lived on the site for 12 years, thus claiming Adverse Possession and the right to the title deeds.

The film is based on the actual case of Harry Hallowes who won the right to squat on the Hampstead land back in 2005, and was a sweet English film that gently pokes fun at our shallowness. Forgetting peoples lives as we clamour to see our property prices reach ever unattainable prices. Diane Keaton and Brendan Gleeson were lovely. The cast terrific including Mike Leigh alumni brittle but brilliant Lesley Manville, and hilarious Phil Davis.

All set in beautiful leafy Hampstead.

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