The Lady in the Van (2015)

The Lady in the Van (2015)
  • Time: 104 min
  • Genre: Biography | Comedy | Drama
  • Director: Nicholas Hytner
  • Cast: Alex Jennings, Maggie Smith, Dominic Cooper


Lady in the Van tells the true story of the relationship between Alan Bennett and the singular Miss Shepherd, a woman of uncertain origins who ‘temporarily’ parked her van in Bennett’s London driveway and proceeded to live there for 15 years.

One comment

  • Alan Bennett has written for stage, TV, movies, and just publication. His stage work goes back to Beyond The Fringe in 1964 which was one of the precursors to Monty Python. Since then he has collected a slew of awards including an Olivier Award nomination for the play this movie is based on. I have always said, first and foremost, there has to be a good story for a film to succeed. Bennett was not content just filming the play and re-worked the movie script. I do not know if this is part of the play but two actors play Bennet’s character, one is the writer and one is the one does the living. This movie is constantly shifting from one reality to another but it is done so smoothly that there isn’t even a bump during the transitions.
    Nicholas Hytner also has a strong stage directing presence and has directed several of Bennett’s stage plays, some of which he directed on film as well. He is not a flashy director but allows the characters to take center stage and they do.
    My favorite actor in this movie is Maggie Smith as Miss Shepard. Yes, Smith has a acting style that is unique to her but I have never seen her do something where she didn’t fit. She knows how to get a laugh and to pull at the heart-strings and she does both in this movie. The character wants to be around people but she has too much to hide. Alex Jennings plays both Alan Bennetts in the movie and they are a funny juxtaposition to each other. Both of Jenning’s Bennetts are calm personified but frustration identified. The various conflicts in his life, the woman living in his driveway, his mother, various other people, quietly shift in importance as he sees his life.
    Jim Broadbent is the part of the denouement that must be there for the other characters to know why. There are a number of cameos including Dominic Cooper, Frances de la Tour, James Corden, Russel Tovey, and Alan Bennett. There are so many layers of connectedness with the director, writer and cast that it would take several long paragraphs to detail it all.
    I give this movie 5 paint jobs out of 5. The movie draws you in emotionally while you laugh and keeps making its slightly off-kilter view point so you don’t know what’s going to happen next.

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