By Will Barber Taylor
Based on the bestselling memoir and play by Alan Bennett, The Lady In The Van tells the “mostly true” story of Miss Mary Shepherd (Maggie Smith) who lived in a van on Bennett’s driveway in Camden for 15 years. Told in a stylish and Meta way, the film sees Miss Shepherd’s various antics which fascinate Bennett the writer but frustrate the Bennett that “lives”.
The subtle divide between author and person is fascinating to watch because it provides a commentary on writing and also one on the differences between the writer and the “real person”. Over the course of the film we learn more about Miss Shepherd and how she has come to reside in the titular van.
Smith presents an all-time great performance as Shepherd, one she has mastered to create perfection. She struts and strides across the screen carrying the weight of the film on her shoulders while Alex Jenning’s dual Bennett’s looks on in dismay.
It is a fascinating and fantastic film that mixes inexplicable Pythonian wit with a heartfelt social commentary.