The Lady in the Van

3.5 out of 5 stars

While you will not be disappointed if you come to see Maggie Smith acts her filthy hobo socks off on screen; the film is about her Miss Shepherd as much as it is about Alan Bennett who let her and her van sit in his driveway for 15 years. So instead, I am going to praise the rather amazing Alex Jennings who plays him. The film script opens up the story by having 2 Bennetts talk to each other. It is an intriguing and effective narrative device that not only delivers some of the best lines in the film, but also avoids having him talk to himself in an artificial and somewhat theatrical manner and we get so much more from this inverted monologue as to who Bennett is: an insecure writer, a closeted son caring for his mother and a compassionate person who just wants to help. Add on a few “Historical” cameos and a bittersweet ending that is befitting the lady in question, you get a cozy and often thoughtful film that verges on sentimentality but never dwells on it.

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