HAMPSTEAD

Style Magazine - - Entertainment -

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.

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