Film Review: Hampstead

Pleasant * Gentle * Uplifting

3.5 stars

Hampstead is an English film with an American twist, an almost-rom-com, which I found a pleasant-enough way to pass the time of day.


It stars Diane Keaton (who I love, and I will watch anything she’s in) and Brendan Gleeson, in the story of a blossoming relationship between Emily (Keaton) and Donald (Gleeson), held together by the glue of a legal battle to defend Donald’s “squatters rights” to stay in his shack that he has built in Hampstead Heath in London. The scenery is gorgeous and there are some lovely moments of humour.

I went into the cinema knowing absolutely nothing about this film, having simply passed the movie poster at the front of the building and making an impromptu decision to head on in. So I didn’t know that the story was based on the true life events of Harry Hallowes, who won his squatters rights in 2007.

Look, as much as I adore Diane Keaton, I did spend some time at the beginning trying to orient myself as to where in time and space I was in this film, and then to reconcile her place in this otherwise very British film. In fact it highlighted to me quite sharply just how differently I feel about US or British films.

But what I was looking for was something gentle, uplifting and beautiful, and that is what I got. I walked out feeling good and that’s always a bonus.