Y’all know, when I was in the screening for Hampstead, maybe around 20 minutes in I was ready to be hating it. Like, it falls into this trap that so many cosy movies do of creating this aesthetic representation of ideal poorness. We got two leads here who are in pretty dire financial straits, but if you can make your make your poverty either romantic enough or invisible enough then you’re acceptable to be the subject of nice gentle middle class entertainment.
Which is a pretty disgusting sentiment really. One which I ain’t gonna forgive the film for, because for all it acts like a socialist piece, shooting at the grave of Karl Marx (you can actually see the ground vibrating as he spins beneath their feet), it really got nothing to say. Poor people will generally not be having a time as nice or as pretty as these people. They generally be working for starters, not spending their time admiring how perfect it is to be in the right part of London, as imaginary as that construction is. Would that my broke-ass life half so nice.
If though, we can filmically make poverty look all nice then maybe the sixty year old, tory voting, white ass audience won’t be feeling so bad for fucking over the poor. I guess the hope always is to help them empathise, but come on, seriously? Seriously? Don’t never happen. The film ends and our heroes have found themselves a nice quaint countryside cottage. They have a canal boat too and seemingly enough money to be getting by, so another grand victory for the status quo, why don’t all the poors just do this?
I have a significant distaste for the film’s weak ass politics.
But fuck me if it isn’t the good romantic comedy problem, or at least the not bad romantic comedy problem. It far too banal to ever be categorised as good, we can let that go, it’s functional enough. Which is damning with faint praise. Brendan Gleeson and Diane Keaton pretty hot though and I mean, if I were like maybe forty years older I totally would. I wanna see them get together and the film so relentlessly optimistic it don’t even really have that end of act two downbeat.
It also has Adeel Akhtar in it. I love him, he is literally one of the best working character actors in England today. If there were any justice in the world he’d have gone big years ago. He’s here in a short role as a charity lawyer and he just nails everything. There’s this bit he does with a pen run out of ink, which is like foundational physical comedy type stuff, he’s so so good.
On the other hand we got Jason Watkins who, admittedly has been quite standard in his other work, appears here playing Austin Powers. Just Austin Powers. as an accountant who thinks Keaton will date him in return for some monetary advice. You see his gurning mug and they all faces right outta the Mike Meyers playbook. It uncanny and totally don’t work whatsoever. You dislike the guy, but you were going to anyway, so the performance just distracting.
I don’t understand why I like it at all. It just another white old people movie. One that traffics in shitty regressive white old people politics and dreams of a London with no poor people. Maybe it just because the last we got of all these was the ratbag that was The Sense of an Ending. Or maybe because it was so goddamn featureless that ever the weight of my political ire was worn down by its best impression of something that could reasonably be construed as good naturedness.
But I did, I found it fine. I found it okay. I found it an acceptable, if not quite pleasurable experience. I wouldn’t by any means recommend that anyone go see it ever.
There been enough bad movies recently and I just don’t have it in me to be outraged.
Hampstead is currently screening in UK cinemas