• Guy Jeffries

Hampstead Review


Director: Joel Hopkins

Starring: Diane Keaton, Brendan Gleeson, James Norton, Simon Callow, Lesley Manville, Hugh Skinner.

I'm undecided about the title, it being simple put, Hampstead, the place where the film is set, or should I say, where the story originates from. The affluent area of Camden, London. I suppose it's nice that they have kept the authenticity true, but some of it I certainly question.

It's not about Hampstead Heath as such, but a story based on the real-life, eccentric and precarious, Harry Hallowes, or Harry the Hermit who set up camp on the Heath back in 1987 after being evicted from his council flat and had lived off the land, on the Heath from then on; earning a living by doing odd jobs for the local residence. Director Terry Gilliam supposedly being one of his punters.

Though, the plot of land Harry had chosen to live on came under the eyes of property developers, who constantly tried to have Harry evict from the land, ensuring the legal battle that makes up a part of this story. I say a part, because, it simply is just that and not the bulk of it as some expect. And this is what I question, whether the part of Diane Keaton is fabricated just to flesh out the story and Donald Horner, the character based on Harry, played by Brendan Gleason.

But the name change should be a clear indication that this a story loosely based on an extraordinary true story, and I can't remember whether the film itself actually claims to be of a true story, or even gives tribute to the real Harry who sadly passed away last year. Either way, it's a delightful, uplifting and engaging story but unfortunately one that could be quickly forgotten about, or worse, overlooked, appearing unappealing to most.

Hopkins does what he seems to know best, tackling often awkward and complicated relationships, being very honest and heart-felt which is what really gives this film traction. Following the developing relationship is captivating and funny at times. But I wouldn't consider this a comedy/drama, or even a romance/drama. At its core, its more drama propped up with romance and little bits of comedy.

Sadly the film doesn't shout about wanting to be watched, there's nothing really enticing about the film that might urge audience to watch. But it's not a bad film, well acted with a decent structure, script and story. Even Warbeck provides a good score and filming on location was a lovely touch too, making the film be very recognisable to the local habitants of Hampstead. It's just not worth the cinema ticket price and is a film that some might watch by accident as oppose to actively wanting to.

Running Time: 6

The Cast: 6

Performance: 6

Direction: 7

Story: 7

Script: 7

Creativity: 7

Soundtrack: 7

Job Description: 6

The Extra Bonus Point: 0

59% 6/10

#JoelHopkins #DianeKeaton #BrendanGleeson #JamesNorton #SimonCallow #LesleyManville #HughSkinner #StephenWarbeck