Inspired by true events, Hampstead follows unconventional Donald Horner (Brendan Gleeson) who lives off the land in a shack built by himself on Hampstead Heath. Ruthless property developers threaten to uproot Donald and destroy his home in order to build luxury flats in its place. With the help of his neighbour Emily (Diane Keaton), a posh widow who has grown bored of her day to day life, he fights back to defend his home.
Hampstead is without a doubt a heart-warmingly fun, family film perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon. It’s perhaps not laugh out loud funny, however it is still a very uplifting film that will definitely make you giggle nonetheless. The quirky yet slightly cheesy soundtrack is nothing less than you’d expect and compliments the upbeat tone to the film perfectly. The film boasts some great cinematography and clever use of camera shots, making Hampstead Heath look rather picturesque. If I was not from England myself, it would certainly be a place I’d want to visit after watching this!
The storyline is very emotive and knowing that it is inspired by true events makes it all the more powerful. The audience can relate to Donald’s character, although they may not share a mutual desire for his chosen lifestyle, they can very easily relate to the fear of losing their home and wanting to fight to protect it. The nail biting court room scenes where Donald’s fate and future are decided will keep audiences firmly glued to their seats.
Despite the film being inspired by true events, Emily Walter’s character is completely fictional. Adding a love interest into the story works really well and adds more depth and emotion to the narrative. Watching Donald fall in love makes him appear more human, as a result he becomes more relatable to the audience and we care about what happens to him. Without this the audience may have found it more difficult to connect and sympathise with his character.
Diane Keaton is superb as the outgoing yet down to earth American, who has chosen London as her home. Keaton and Gleeson don’t have the obvious on screen chemistry you might find in most rom coms, but in a way it adds more realism to the story. They’re meant to be from two different worlds, they’re meant to be an unlikely couple. Because of this their slight lack of chemistry is acceptable and seems to work.
Hampstead doesn’t have any gun fights or intense car chases, but is entertaining all the same. It’s the type of film that does exactly what it says on the tin, light hearted and cheesy, it will appeal to all members of the family.
Hampstead is available on DVD now.
Dir: Joel Hopkins
Prd: Robert Bernstein
Scr: Robert Festinger
Starring: Brendan Gleeson, Diane Keaton, James Norton
Music by: Stephen Warbeck