During one sunny day on Hampstead Heath, people fall in love, break up, get back together and hit on each other.
You’d be forgiven for expecting something pretty special from this episodic ensemble, given the none-more-starry British cast attached. Familiar faces flit across the screen — but the whole is far less than the sum of the parts.
Each episode focuses on a different couple, and aside from a dodgy running joke about cottaging in the bushes, there’s almost no crossover. Andrew Lincoln is caught ogling a student by his wife in the first, talky snippet; a psychotic Sophie Okonedo is hit on by Tom Hardy; Ewan McGregor promises his boyfriend that he’ll stop sleeping around if they can adopt; Mark Strong and Polly Walker experience love as a business transaction; Catherine Tate and Adrian Lester enjoy the friendliest divorce in history; and Gina McKee has a blind date with Hugh Bonneville.
The only recurring thread is the story of Eddie and Iris (Eileen Atkins and Benjamin Whitrow), who meet on a park bench. Their scenes have weight and charm, but few of the other vignettes are as insightful as they’d clearly like to be. McGregor’s fey appeal makes his turn memorable, and Hardy’s chancer is a very funny stand-out. The best snippet by far belongs to Lester and Tate, experiencing a wonderfully loving break-up. But the problem is the glib, half-baked situations — you’re left wondering what the point of it all is — and sadly, that undermines all the best efforts of the cast.
Good in patches but insubstantial, the only discernable moral is that Hampstead Heath is a nice place to be on a sunny day.