I don't think I've seen the wonderful Diane Keaton in a non-American film before. Here she is starring as an American widow in a British venture, and living in this chic part of north London where she works in a charity shop, and getting involved with gruff Brendan Gleeson, a 'homeless' itinerant who has resided in a shack on the edge of Hampstead Heath for 17 years. It's a shame, then, that I think she wasn't the right person for the part.
Based on a true story - which every second film now seems to be - I don't know if that was why Keaton's character had to be American, though that needn't get in the way. Her personality seems not to fit here, which isn't helped by the emotional contact between her and Gleason being, to me at least, nowhere near convincing.
She only notices his home, which is mostly concealed by surrounding foliage, when she tries out a pair of binoculars from the upper reaches of her spacious apartment (which these days in that exclusive part of London would surely cost upwards of £1 million!) She learns that there's an attempt by developers to force the shack dweller to move away so, she herself not keen on the planned development anyway, gets to meet him and support his fight to stay.
She has her own legal affairs that need untangling and the solicitor she hires (played as rather odiously friendly towards her) expects to have his hopes fulfilled when she doesn't reject his advances outright. This also struck me as a discordant note, especially when she was already starting to get involved with the Gleeson character.
I used to know the Hampstead area a little thirty or so years ago. at which time there was still a hint of the bohemian life around there. There's no trace of that left now and nothing of such is shown in this film. I think Hampstead has pretty well all gone lah-di-dah now.
This is an amiable enough film though it never really takes off. The story is moderately interesting but hardly gripping.
The film only properly perked up for me in the outdoor scenes when I vaguely remembered the shopping streets - as well as in nearby Highgate cemetery (containing the grave of Karl Marx). But the indoor scenes between the two main characters were fairly routine depicting their burgeoning liking for each other, in respect of which I remained unconvinced.
This is director Joel Hopkins' fifth feature and the first of his that I have seen. There may be some promise within this film but I think he's going to need stronger material than this to test him properly (A thousand-fold improvement on yesterday's misfire anyway!).....................5.5.
3 hours ago