Sunday, 15 November 2015

The Lady In The Van ( Spoilers)


I'm still not firing on all cylinders yet ( no jokes) but I was glad that we went to the cinema this afternoon.
We went to see Nicolas Hytner's screen adaptation of Alan Bennett's " The Lady In The Van"

The film , somewhat tentatively , explores Bennett's odd relationship with the eccentric Miss Shepherd who lived a somewhat disorganised and slovenly life in an old van outside his London house for over fifteen years.
Bennett is portrayed as the character that we all think that we know and love. He is a Witty , self depreciating, lonely old northern poof with mother issues and Miss Shepherd is his shit flinging mother figure, cow muse , a woman with a hidden past, mental health issues and the ideal character to base a book, play and now a film on.
I could go on about the the film's efforts to keep Miss Shepherd's secrets until the film reel, but I won't, as these swerve balls are not really important to the experience per se.
The film's strength lies in Maggie Smith .
Now we all know the Smith " shriek" which has been put to such good effect in productions ranging from Gosforth Park and Downton Abbey to  The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and A Private Function and so fans will be happy to hear that she brandishes it , with magnificent effect in this movie as she berates Bennett ( Alex Jennings) and the other well meaning residents of leafy Camden .However it is in several key almost silent scenes that the old girl, with her lined face and sad eyes, shines so beautifully.
The first is when Miss Shepherd listens to a beautiful piece of music for the first time in many years and the second is when she is placed on an ambulance tail lift, an experience which she finds strangely exciting. Like a silent film star , the emotions she shares with the audience , are extraordinary powerful and moving.
The script isn't as biting and funny as Bennett's A Private Function, which is a little disappointing and the " clever" touches such as the cameos from all of the history boys as well as the underused roles of all of the Camden residents ( Francis de la Tour, Roger Allam, Deborah Findley) let the side down a little.
But having said that, it is Smith that makes the whole amusing story, worthwhile
8/10

22 comments:

  1. I hope we can see it on this side of the pond. How can one not love Maggie?

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  2. I will definitely look forward to seeing this . I do love Maggie Smith ..

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    1. PS
      I am glad you are feeling a bit better ... every day it will be better and better ..

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  3. I love Maggie Smith, Dowton would be a dull show without her. Ahem, some will still say it is still dull.....

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  4. I loved Alan Bennet's account of when he had his good friend, Vincent Price around, and she scared the shit out of him by leaping out of the bushes!

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  5. Thought you'd enjoy it. x

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  6. No one like Maggie Smith....

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  7. I always enjoy your reviews and your insights and dissections of the plot always enlightening as well as your character critiques. I think I'd enjoy this one.

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  8. Graham Norton had both Maggie Smith and Alex Jennings as guests on his show...to promote this film....they were wonderful...Maggie, of course, without really having to say so....

    It was a great segment...I love Norton....he certainly knows how to relax his guests and get the best from them.

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    1. Wasn't she fabulous - owns the boxed set of Downton Abbey but has never watched it. I suspect she agrees with many of us, in that it is total soap opera trash - Footballers' Wives with posh voices and frocks

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  9. Maggie Smith is a great actress. I hope I get to see this movie.

    Love,
    Janie

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  10. I saw the "coming attractions" to this movie and was not sure I wanted to see it. However, it is Maggie Smith, and anyone who loves film, can't resist.

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  11. You've beaten me to it, J.G. I'm going this afty, and have high expectations, having thoroughly enjoyed the radio version of the stage play broadcast a few years back, with Smith and Bennett himself. Great admirer of anything by Bennett anyway so it'll very strange if I turn out to be disappointed.

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  12. I really want to see this. My mother saw Maggie Smith in a play when they were both very young & thought what a fabulous actress she was x

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  13. She would make any film or stage show she was in. I have it on my list of things to see and we have just had a huge cinema open near to us so there will be no excuse to miss it.

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  14. Hello John, been trying to comment for ages, but defeated by technology until now! Have you seen this?
    https://howardwilliamsblog.wordpress.com/2015/11/14/the-largest-ancient-mound-in-wales-the-gop-cairn/

    Andrea from Neath

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  15. I saw her do this in the West End years and years ago. I really enjoyed it. I'm intrigued by the movie, too!

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  16. I hate spoilers so, I appreciate the word in the title. :)
    Love the photo of the old lady. Legendary actress.

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  17. I really fancy seeing this film. I love most things with Maggie Smith, Downton being the exception..... ducks quickly ... haha ;-)

    I'm sure this was advertised and was on television either last Christmas or the one before, I remember being gutted that I had missed it. I'm glad it's out at the cinema now.

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  18. I love Alan Bennett's writing. Wish we would get this film here, but we don't often seem to get such gems.
    One of my fav. stories by Bennett is - Cream cracker under the Settee -
    I think I saw it in a production on Public Television of a trio of Bennett's stories. Dame Thora Hird played the little old lady stuck in the room. She's another like Ms. Smith who just captivate!

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