"Fighting “The Man”"
What You Need To Know:
HAMPSTEAD is a slow story about two lonely people develop feelings for one another. It easily could have been 30 minutes shorter without losing any key plot points. There’s not a lot keeping viewers involved in this storyline, with a rather monotonous progression. HAMPSTEAD also has a strong Romantic worldview, a fair amount of foul language and strong anti-capitalist, environmentalist elements that seem to reflect the leading male character’s apparent communist views.
HAMPSTEAD follows an elderly American woman living in London named Emily Walters, who’s dealing with the recent death of her husband, who left her with nothing but trouble and bad news. When he died, Emily learned of his affair with another woman after finding photos of her in his safety deposit box. Not only that, but he left her with an enormous amount of debt that she has no idea how to combat. She only works by volunteering her time at a donation shop nearby. One day, while taking a look around outside of her window with her husband’s binoculars, she spots a man getting attacked outside his house and calls the police for help. She’s relieved to see the emergency services there quickly to attend to any injury he may have.
A few days later, she’s been assigned a clipboard by a woman in her building to get people in the neighborhood to sign a petition to remove the cell phone towers. While circling a few streets, she stumbles into the cemetery and takes a few minutes to yell at her deceased husband. A few moments later, she spots the man who was being attacked lounging by the nearby grave of Karl Marx. She tries to talk to the man, whose name is Donald. However, Donald’s clearly a harsh, rather jaded old man who wants nothing to do with anyone else. However, when she tells him that she’s the one that called the police for him, his heart softens a bit and thanks her for what she did.
A few days later, she’s spying again with the binoculars, when she sees a message written on top of Donald’s house. Taken completely by surprise, Donald is asking her to dinner. Finding him fishing to catch their dinner, Emily sits and tries to help. She learns he’s been living off the land for almost 20 years, but there are developers who try to remove him from this land in order to build on it. Wanting to help, she solicits the assistance of an activist she knows, and the attention quickly begins to snowball with the public fighting for Donald to keep his home.
Although he never technically owned the property, he took ownership over it and has been growing his own crops there for years. However, Donald isn’t accustomed to asking for or accepting help, and all of the attention by the media and activists is infuriating to him. Emily is able to convince him to allow people to help him, and soon a “Team Donald” has formed, cheering him on at the court hearing. Now, it’s up to the judge to decide whether he is allowed to stay on this land that he never had permission to be on in the first place, or if he will lose his home to be put on the streets once again.
HAMPSTEAD has some sweet moments, but overall is sadly lacking. The relationship between Gleeson and Keaton is very strange, trying to pass for a romantic chemistry when it never fully occurs to the audience that way. The lives of the characters are never fully explored, leaving the storyline feeling almost shallow, and the viewer uninvested. The production values are high, with name actors in the spotlight, and an obvious budget attached. However, the storyline verges on boring, and a significant amount of time and scenes could have been removed without compromising any part of the plot.
This movie has little to no redemptive elements and contains strong anti-capitalist, environmentalist elements, with communist overtones as well as Romantic themes. The characters have no guidance or consequence from God for their actions. Also, the characters use God’s name in vain many times, as well as some obscenities. Finally, the movie implies the couple in the story become sexually intimate with one another.