781. The Lady in the Van

Title: The Lady in the Van
Director: Nicholas Hytner
Year: 2015
Run time: 1hr 44m

“Two-time Oscar® winner and star of “Downton Abbey”, Dame Maggie Smith, recreates one of her most celebrated roles – the singular Miss Shepherd – in The Lady In The Van, Alan Bennett’s big-screen comedic adaptation of his own iconic memoir and honoured stage play. Based on the true story, Miss Shepherd was a woman of uncertain origins who “temporarily” parked her van in Bennett’s London driveway and proceeded to live there for 15 years. What began as a begrudged favour became a relationship that would change both their lives. Filmed on the street and in the house where Bennett and Miss Shepherd lived for all those years, acclaimed director Nicholas Hytner reunites with Bennett (The Madness of King George, The History Boys) to bring this funny, poignant, and life-affirming story to the screen.”

Live blog

1:27 – That van is awesome.
3:54 – Odoriferous is a great word.
4:57 – “Writing is talking to one’s self.”
9:08 – £13,500, in London! Madness.
13:46 – Tips on Christian parking, weird concept.
15:58 – “Ay, I’ve given you some script. I’m just raw material.”
20:49 – Bonus James Cordon!
24:32 – I secretly love it when someone else can’t open a jar either.
25:29 – Totally bamboozled by the public/private school thing.
30:18 – The yellow paint is very disturbing!
32:16 – The van looks like Only Fools and Horses.
40:28 – Put the handbrake on sooooo hard. Haha.
42:08.- “This is London, nobody thinks anything.”
47:02 – Jim Broadbent has such a distinctive voice.
53:49 – She’s painting the three-wheeler yellow! Yaaas!
1:03:49 – “Scared this might be the end of the story and now I have to write it.”
1:09:15 – Disputatious!
1:13:44 – “Onion’s can only take you so far, medically speaking.”
1:26:51 – She has the right attitude regarding flowers.
1:40:04 – So much meta goodness!

Conclusions

A quirky little true-ish story, this one. Totally adorable in places, moving and sad in others. Pretty much everyone under the sun made a bonus appearance in this film, so I was forever pointing at the screen trying to remember their names. But distractions aside, the story told within is so simple, tender and emotional that it’s hard not to like it.

I really enjoyed the meta aspects of the movie, the double author situation, and the “that didn’t happen,” dialogues. The end got a little too much, really, and the clouds up to heaven situation was weird, but nevertheless, that didn’t detract from the overall film. Also, a mention for the wonderful Maggie Smith and excellent Alex Jennings.

Rating: 4/5.

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