The Lady in the Van (2015)

Ⓒ BBC Films
Ⓒ BBC Films

Director: Nicholas Hytner Cast: Maggie Smith, Alex Jennings, Jim Broadbent

Written by Alan Bennett, this autobiographical tale tells the story of a mysterious, eccentric and infuriating lady who ends up living in her van, parked on a man’s driveway, for 15 years.

I’ll start by saying that this isn’t really the sort of film I would choose to got out and see by my own volition, but I was offered the chance to go and thought I’d give it a shot. In the end, it was enjoyable and easy to watch, and there were several good laughs. The way the story was structured and the way it was filmed is what stood out for me: the narrator and main character is Alan Bennett himself, and in order for the audience to really get inside his head to know what he’s thinking, there are basically two Alans. One is the real-life, physical Alan who goes about his day-to-day life, while the other is Alan’s thoughts, and they speak to each other and discuss what’s going on. I thought this was a really effective way of including all the key details that would usually be missed in film adaptations.

There were some funny moments, although I would say that it would probably help to have some knowledge of Alan Bennett’s other work since there were a few references and in-jokes relating to these- I had no idea who he was beforehand (so uncultured) so those jokes went right over my head. The humour, and the whole film in general, is definitely targeted at older audiences; while it is inoffensive and totally appropriate for children, the style of it suits an adult audience.

All in all I thought this was a good film, and every now and again it’s good to see a British film (with some very particular British humour) rather than the usual Hollywood blockbuster. It was filmed and acted well, with a plot that goes beyond the surface but yet isn;t hard to follow. I don’t know if I’d watch it again, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t like it; like I said, I’m in my early-twenties and not really the target audience.

3.5 stars

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