The Lady In The Van

A review of the 2015 Film starring Maggie Smith and Alex Jennings,
directed by Nicholas Hytner.

As the film itself says, a mostly true story, cleverly told. The Lady In The Van is about a man, writer Alan Bennett, who finds an unexpected bond, I hesitate to say friendship, between himself and a somewhat disreputable seeming Miss Shepherd, who he let park her van in his driveway for 15 years.

It was Alan Bennett himself who wrote the film, which was directed by Nicholas Hytner. Bennett was played by Alex Jennings, ably supported by such as Frances de la Tour and Jim Broadbent, amongst others. Maggie Smith of course played the title character, Miss Shepherd, in a part that might have been written especially for her.

Although there were only a couple of brief occasions when Miss Shepherd seemed genuinely happy, the film still had a kind of charm about it. Miss Shepherd’s character died of course in the film, just as the real Miss Shepherd had but that did not detract from its charm.

The scene at the cemetery was a touching moment, but just for a moment. Some will disagree with me, but that scene was, in my opinion, taken a bit too far past the bounds of reality, if not in its message certainly in the way it was filmed. Without giving anything away, that scene should have been shorter and without the effects employed.

Despite my reservation about the cemetery scene, I thoroughly enjoyed the film. Maggie Smith kept up her usual high acting standard. She was completely believable as Miss Shepherd and Alex Jennings made a fine Alan Bennett. It was well worth the admission price.

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