There is a revealing moment midway through Hampstead.
Diane Keaton’s character has a good sniff of the hirsute tramp played by Brendan Gleeson and concludes that he smells “much better” than she anticipated. The film is a romantic comedy about the “older” generation. Keaton plays Emily Walters, an American whose husband recently died.
She is supposedly in a very bad place: her finances are in a mess, the roof of her very upmarket Hampstead mansion flat is leaking, she has realised her late husband was a love rat, and she has no professional skills, or at least “none that matter”, and runs a charity shop.
Donald “Tramp” (Gleeson) is a loner who lives in his surprisingly homely shack on the edge of the Heath.
He grows his own vegetables and catches fish from the ponds, and the developers are trying to have him evicted from his north London Eden but he ignores their letters and writs.
Emily has taken to spying on him, watching him through her high powered binoculars from her attic bathing in the waters as if he is Mellors the gamekeeper and she is Hampstead’s answer to Lady Chatterley.
Inevitably, they meet, and once she has established that he has satisfactory standards of personal hygiene, they fall in love.
The film is loosely inspired by the life of Harry Hallowes, who really did live on the Heath and managed to claim squatter’s rights when attempts were made to evict him. It culminates in an absurd court case which has more than a hint of Gilbert and Sullivan about it.