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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Wednesday November 14, 2018 


SYNOPSIS: Living on the edge of Hampstead Heath, Emily Walters (Diane Keaton) can't quite focus on the things that need attention in her life, like her lovely old apartment, her diminishing finances or even her son Philip (James Norton). Everything changes when she meets the eccentric, unkempt Donald (Brendan Gleeson), who has lived harmoniously on the Heath for 17 years in a ramshackle hut. Property developers are attempting to evict him and Emily finds herself defending Donald, when she finds something special about this unconventional man she meets by accident.

Review by Louise Keller:
I had high hopes for Hampstead, the film named after the sought after London suburb and starring Diane Keaton and Brendan Gleeson, but they were quickly dashed. Could this be another Notting Hill? Instead of an interesting rom com cocktail, there's a plastic plot, embarrassing dialogue and syrupy music. Directed by Joel Hopkins, who directed the 2008 charmer Last Chance Harvey with Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson, there is little that is charming here; it might be based on a true story about a man living illegally on Hampstead Heath and the woman who befriends him, but Robert Festinger's screenplay plays out with no credibility.

Emily (Keaton) is a widow who lives in Hampstead Heath and believes she has nothing of value to anyone except mounting bills and memories of 'a ratbag husband'. She is an older version of Annie Hall. The way her relationship with Donald (Gleeson) evolves is not only unconvincing, but irritates; it is from her attic (her new 'go-go' place) that she can see the messages he handwrites to her.

Equally unconvincing is the development of the relationship between Emily and her slimy accountant James (Jason Watkins). Is an accountant really likely to offer his services free - for extra curricular activity? Then there is the dialogue. 'Please don't do this,' is one cringe worthy example. Then there is Emily's best friend Fiona (Lesley Manville). Who needs enemies when you have friends like that? Stephen Warbeck (Shakespeare in Love, Quills) is a fine composer - the trite score is uncharacteristic.

Keaton plays Keaton and Gleeson plays Gleeson. That should almost be enough to carry the film. But it isn't. Instead I wished these two fine actors were cast together in another film that was worthy of their talents.

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(UK, 2017)

CAST: Diane Keaton, Brendan Gleeson, James Norton

PRODUCER: Robert Bernstein, Douglas Rae

DIRECTOR: Joel Hopkins

SCRIPT: Robert Festinger


EDITOR: Robin Sales

MUSIC: Stephen Warbeck


RUNNING TIME: 102 minutes



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