Diane Keaton stars as Emily, a widow whose upperclass life has spiralled to the brink of poverty when her husband's death left her with a trail of debt. She is surrounded by snobby housewives and sleazy lawyers and seems incapable of moving forward... that is until she meets Donald, a local hermit who lives in a small shack across the road from her apartment. He lives on private property, in the wooded grounds of an abandoned hospital and is faced with the prospect of being evicted when big developers propose building a large apartment complex. Emily befriends Donald and together they fight for his right to the land. The rest... well, you can probably assume how it goes.
Much like THE LADY IN THE VAN and THE BEST MARIGOLD HOTEL, HAMPSTEAD is a film pitched to a middle-aged to elderly audience and for all intensive purposes it is a well crafted and fulfilling tale. It's nicely shot and delightfully acted. Diane Keaton is lovely, and while she seems incapable of breaking “type” in recent years she has her style toned down for a much more subtle and endearing delivery. Brendan Gleeson is the film's centrepiece and he gives a wonderful performance as the grumpy antisocial hermit who wants to be left alone. His character arc from prickly to sensitive is fun to watch and his dynamic with Keaton works well.
To be critical about HAMPSTEAD would mean pointing to all of the stupid idiocies, such as Keaton sporting an extravagant wardrobe despite being on the cusp of poverty, or her unrealistic debt-free outcome (no further spoilers)... but who gives a stuff about any of that? At the end of the day we're dealing with a lovely movie that will strike a chord with its target audience and who am I to piss on that?