Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Living - - CINEMA - HILARY A WHITE

Cert: 12A; Now show­ing

It can be hard to fore­cast where Bren­dan Glee­son will turn up next. In the last cou­ple of years alone, the burly gi­ant of Irish act­ing has nar­rated a fea­ture doc­u­men­tary and ap­peared in a video game adap­ta­tion, not to men­tion ev­ery­thing in be­tween. Hamp­stead, a rom-com based in the leafy London sub­urb, finds Glee­son wad­ing into lighter ter­ri­tory and show­ing there is very lit­tle the 62-year-old can’t pull off.

Mod­est to a fault, he’d prob­a­bly put much of the ef­fect down to his op­po­site num­ber here, Diane Keaton, and he’d be partly right. The pair make for such an un­likely duo — Glee­son as Don­ald, a man liv­ing off-grid in a shack on Hamp­stead Heath, Keaton as lonely lo­cal di­vorcee Emily — that a gen­tly bub­bling chem­istry takes hold, a kind of Beauty and the Beast for the bus-pass gen­er­a­tion.

Di­rec­tor Joel Hopkins plays up to this all the time as he plonks the two leads in a very Richard Cur­tis-es­que en­v­i­ron of gush­ing win­dow boxes, cheery shop as­sis­tants and hoity-toity busy­bod­ies who can’t see what mat­ters in life.

Emily, re­cov­er­ing from a phi­lan­der­ing ex-hus­band and low on true friends, lo­cates ex­actly what she needs in Don­ald, whom she no­tices one day from her loft win­dow. That Don­ald is fac­ing evic­tion by das­tardly de­vel­op­ers only quick­ens Emily’s sense of ful­fil­ment. Love blooms and all sorts of snobby sen­si­bil­i­ties fire off around the cou­ple.

With the ar­rival of sum­mer, there is very much a place for light, breezy saun­ters such as Hamp­stead that won’t trou­ble the awards sea­son but are filled with twin­kling smiles, re­li­able tropes and jaunty mu­sic. It’s cloy­ingly cute and idyl­lic at times — but worth it for the two heavy­weights cen­tre-stage.

Diane Keaton and Bren­dan Glee­son in a scene from Hamp­stead

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