I have recently watched the film ‘The Lady In The Van’ starring Maggie Smith playing the true story of the formidable Miss Shepherd who was a larger than life character that obviously had a complicated and troubled past.
The lure of the film is definitely the casting of Maggie Smith as ‘The Lady in the Van’, Miss Shepherd, parking her van in playwright Alan Bennett’s driveway in 1974 and living there for fifteen years after thinking she had been responsible for the death of somebody and going on the run.
The film runs for one hour and forty four minutes and is written by Alan Bennett.
Miss Shepherd did everything in her van!! The smell lingered long after she left! She seemed to have an unusual friendship with Alan Bennett and it is poignant in the fact that he allowed Miss Shepherd to stay on his driveway but could not have his ageing mother living with him. Partly due to the fact he did not want her to be aware of his late night male visitors.
When I first saw the film at the cinema I overheard somebody say that they thought it would be funnier. However be under no illusion that this film is a comedy. It is real life and so how can a story about a homeless lady be a laugh a minute. That said Miss Shepherd, if the portrayal is correct, was very humorous in her dogmatic, eccentricity and dry sense of humour.
She wore clothes made of cloths and dusters and slippers on her feet. Loving the colour yellow Miss Shepherd painted the van in household paint, with a dish brush!!
The film raises the question was it that Alan Bennett enjoyed having somebody to talk to, did he really had compassion or was she seen as somebody to get writing material from?
The film runs at a nice leisurely speed and I felt the ending made it into a bit of a dream sequence but feel they probably wanted it to end on a high, rather than when Miss Shepherd dies, the story ends.
Alex Jennings should also be mentioned for his great character portrayal of Alan Bennett.
Alan Bennett also makes an appearance himself at the end of the film and it is filmed at his house.
The films tag line is ‘Some people stay with you’ and Mrs Shepherd certainly does!!
Sparkle Hugs and Glitter Kisses xx
All photographs, unless stated, are the copyright of Lorna Liza