By Leo Barraclough | Variety
LONDON — Diane Keaton and Brendan Gleeson (“Calvary”) are attached to star in “Hampstead,” which has been developed and is being produced by London-based production company Ecosse Films. Alison Thompson and Mark Gooder’s Cornerstone Films will handle international sales, including North America, and will introduce the project to buyers at the American Film Market.
Inspired by a true story, “Hampstead” is a “charming and funny life-affirming tale” about how love can be found in the most unexpected places and that age is no barrier to second chances. The film will be directed by Joel Hopkins (“Last Chance Harvey”), from a screenplay by Robert Festinger (“In the Bedroom”). It is produced by Robert Bernstein and Douglas Rae from Ecosse Films (“Nowhere Boy,” “Becoming Jane”). “Hampstead” will start pre-production early 2016, and will be filmed in and around Hampstead in central London.
The story takes place in Hampstead Village, London, which is well-known for its beautiful and the Heath, a piece of quiet countryside in the middle of the metropolis. Living on the edge of the Heath is American widow Emily Walters (Keaton), who can’t quite focus on the things that need attention, like her lovely old apartment, her finances and even her son. Despite encouragement from her close friend Fiona, she doesn’t want to admit that she’s drifting through life without much thought to her future.
One day while looking out across the Heath from her attic window, Emily spies a ramshackle hut, which appears to be inhabited by an unkempt man. She witnesses him being attacked by a group of thugs. She calls the police and watches, through her binoculars, as help arrives. The next day she ventures into the woods in search of the man.
Donald Horner (Gleeson) has lived quietly and harmoniously on the edge of the Heath for 17 years but now his lifestyle is under threat — his home is the target of property developers who’ve started using heavy-handed tactics to remove him. When Emily introduces herself, he is naturally suspicious and politely thanks her but rebuffs her attention. Despite his gruff exterior, there is something gentle and alluring about Donald and when Emily discovers that Fiona is leading a community initiative in support of the developers, she bravely steps up to take Donald’s side in the escalating battle.
Keaton is represented by WME, and Gleeson by Teri Hayden of The Agency and Larry Taube of Principal Entertainment.