25 November 2016

The Lady in the Van

The Lady in the Van 2015
  • Director: Nicholas Hytner
  • Based on book by Alan Bennett
  • Cast: Maggie Smith, Jim Broadbent, Alex Jennings, Deborah Findley, Roger Allam, Frances de la Tour, David Calder
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Maggie Smith – My Old Lady, Hotel Marigold 1 and 2, Downton Abbey, the Harry Potter films, The Quartet, Becoming Jane, Keeping Mum, Ladies in Lavender, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, Gosford Park, David Copperfield, Tea with Mussolini, The First Wives’ Club, Richard III, Sister Acts 1 and 2, A Room with a View, Quartet (1981), Oh What a Lovely War, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
    • Jim Broadbent – Filth, the Harry Potter films, Another Year, The Young Victoria, Vera Drake, Gangs of New York, Moulin Rouge, Bridget Jones’s Diary, Topsy-Turvy, Little Voice, Smilla’s Sense of Snow, Richard III, The Crying Game, Enchanted April, Life Is Sweet, Black Adder, Brazil
    • Alex Jennings – Cranford, The Queen, A Midsummer Night’s Dream
    • Deborah Findley – Cranford, Jane Eyre
    • Roger Allam – The Roman Spring of Mrs Stone, Endeavour, The Tempest (on stage and DVD), The Book Thief, The Woman in Black, Shakespeare and the Brits, Pirates of the Caribbean On Stranger Tides, Henry IV Parts One and Two, The Queen, V for Vendetta
    • Frances de la Tour – Vicious, Hugo, Harry Potter, Alice in Wonderland, The Book of Eli, Cold Lazarus
    • David Calder – many TV series, The World Is not Enough
  • Why? Maggie Smith
  • Seen: 12 November, 2016 with Hal and YW in our read-book-see-film group      

       Miss Shepherd is a mad, fanatically Catholic, extremely smelly, extremely demanding and nasty old woman who lives in a van. Alan Bennett is a thoroughly kind playwright. She exploits him, and everyone, ruthlessly. She ends up parked in his driveway, outside his house in Camden Town.
       Alan Bennett himself adapted his small gem of a book into this film. There are more characters, more stories, more details, more depth of character and background.
       It’s very funny, very sad, very British and one asks oneself, ‘What would I do?’ I’m quite sure I wouldn’t be as kind as Alan Bennett, though he himself sees his relationship with Miss Shepherd as a failure, a weakness, timidity. The years pass, her exploitation continues relentlessly. He loses patience at times but there she remains.
       The film raises difficult questions about what we as individuals and as a society do with people like Miss Shepherd who make it so difficult to be kind. It’s a credit to us humans that there are so many who are kind anyway.
       Maggie Smith is, as always, magnificent. Alex Jennings is excellent as Alan Bennett. The whole cast is good.

5 * of 5   

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