Writer: Alan Bennett (Screenplay)
Starring: Maggie Smith, Alex Jennings, Jim Broadbent, Francis De La Tour, Rufus Allam, Dominic Cooper
Plot: A man forms an unexpected bond with a transient woman living in her van that’s parked in his driveway.
Tagline – A mostly true story
Runtime: 1 Hour 44 Minutes
There may be spoilers the rest of the review
Verdict: Solid Comedy Drama
Story: The Lady in the Van starts as we meet Miss Shepherd (Smith) who lives in her van on a residential street in Camden, London. When Alan Bennett (Jennings) moves in to one of the houses, she sees how the residents accept her in places but he tries to be kind and friendly towards her.
When Miss Shepherd is about to need to find a new place to stay, Alan offers her a place in his drive way where he continues to learn more about her and her past where the mysterious Underwood (Broadbent) turns up as the two go through the ups and downs of a relationship.
Thoughts on The Lady in the Van
Characters – Miss Shepherd is the elderly woman who lives in her van, she is welcome in some places but in others she doesn’t get on with. She believes she knows the world which we are led to believe is being true. Alan Bennett is the playwriter that offers her a chance to live on his drive way and over time they build a strange relationship as he reflects his relationship with her to his own mother.
Performances – Maggie Smith is fantastic in the role showing the vulnerable side the character has even though she is stronger than believed. Alex Jennings is great too, as he is telling us the story through his character.
Story – The story shows how Alan opened his door to Miss Shepherd willing to listen to her stories that could easily be considered fake but as the time unfolds he learns the truth behind them. The story gives us a chance to see how we would react to a homeless person that has been left forgotten by the world. I do wish the timeline had been made clearer through the film and we would have seen more interaction between the two leads though.
Biopic/Comedy – Seeing these two almost random people does feel strange for a biopic, the comedy works in places but in mostly light-hearted material.
Settings – The settings show us how residential streets could be used to show how people can come together to work together to help someone in need.
Final Thoughts – This is a good comedy drama about listening to people’s stories, but it doesn’t pull on the levels it could have,
Overall: Good solid comedy drama.