MOVIE REVIEW: Hampstead

An American widow living in London befriends a man who is living on the grounds of an unused Hospital.  The Hospital and the ground are about to redeveloped into luxury apartment and the Man is told he has to leave his shack.  It doesn’t help that the widow’s best friend is the wife of the developer.  Diane Keaton and Brendan Gleeson star is this disappointing Hallmark channel style film.

Diane Keaton will always, and I mean ALWAYS, be Annie Hall to me.  It was my first experience of the lady and for me the best.  Which is good news for this film as she seems to have brought her outfits from that film to this.  Over the years she’s given great performances, like in Something’s Gotta Give, and Baby Boom, but nothing for me has ever gotten close to the love that I have for her from the Woody Allen film.  Brendan Gleeson is watchable in anything, he’s Irish so he has my love as a fellow Irishman.  For me his performance as the idiotic sheriff in Lake Placid was great fun, and his chemistry with Oliver Platt in that was tremendously enjoyable.

Here in Hampstead, based on the life of a real life man who lived on the Heath, two performers that I truly enjoy, are in one of the most awful films of the year.  I say this and give it a two when I’ve given many ones this year.  Why is it that awful? Why does it get a two?

It’s the one and the same reason.  There is so much potential in the film that you cringe when you see them skate away from the story ideas that would make it great.  Hampstead could have been Notting Hill for the middle-aged.  It doesn’t have the charm that Notting Hill had and it also doesn’t take the risks that the Hugh Grant film took.  It also isn’t funny.  Not at all.  If you ask any reviewer in the game that knows Old Gar they’ll tell you he’s the one that screams with laughter at the dumbest comedies that we get to see.  Here there was nada, nothing, zilch, I didn’t even crack a smile.

Gleeson and Keaton do their best to work with the script, but it’s a dead fish.  I give them credit with their performances and the other mark goes on for what could have been.  Like Baywatch there is an awful lot asked of the audience on their good will towards the performers.  The backstory to the romance between the two is the Housing Crisis that is going on in London, the same one that we’re experiencing in Dublin, and the greedy developers that want to make their cash from the crisis.  This is not exploited to the fullest that it could have been.  There are so many half explorations in the script and film that it leaves you stuck somewhere between caring and not, which for any film, that is dangerous ground.

To Ms. Keaton and Mr. Gleeson, the good will in my mind is used up, that’s it.  You’re capable of more and at an age where you need to be giving more.  This is the kind of film I expect to see on the Hallmark Channel, or one of those digital channels, you were only short of seeing a loveable dog with a lot of personality.  With this cast you think you’re going to get something that is going to stick with you for all the right reasons.  The icing on the cake for me was Simon Callow as a nothing Judge with nothing in the script to play to his talents.  Honestly they could have just had a cardboard cutout of Callow there and you’d get the same performance.

I hate to bash movies I really do.  But I hate that you may waste your movie going cash on something that is a half-baked idea.  So if you decide to go see this you’re going against Uncle Gar’s advice.  Do so at your peril.

Director: Joel Hopkins
Writer: Robert Festinger
Stars: Diane Keaton, James Norton, Brendan Gleeson

See full cast & crew

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