Hampstead | Chicago Reader
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Hampstead

Romantic comedies with leads over the age of 50 owe much to Diane Keaton’s later life commitment to the genre; she has starred in about half of them released stateside. Here Keaton reprises the role of the slightly kooky, klutzy, and lovable gal next door in this toasty crumpet of a film, set around London’s scenic Hampstead Heath. This time she's an American expat and widow burdened by her late husband’s debts whose spirits lift when she meets a grizzled, self-assured hermit (Brendan Gleeson) who lives on the forested edge of the heath in a hand-built shack. Gleeson’s character, loosely based on Hampstead Heath dweller Harry Hallowes, is an opposites-attract match for Keaton’s, with their meet-cute at Karl Marx’s grave in Highgate Cemetery producing immediate sparks. In contrast to the city’s haut monde, they’re both outsiders, but there’s a catch: the hermit is fending off wealthy developers who threaten to remove him from his home, while the expat has awkward social ties to the antagonists. Screenwriter Robert Festinger (In the Bedroom) and director Joel Hopkins (Last Chance Harvey) keep the mood light and the conflict manageable; this is, after all, a romance. With Lesley Manville and Simon Callow.

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