The Lady in the Van
Hopefully, this lamentable film wasn’t Maggie Smith’s swan song.
How is it possible that a film starring the legendary Maggie Smith could prove to be so overwhelmingly tedious? Playing a woman known as Miss Shepherd, Ms. Smith brings to life a transient English woman living in her broken down van who proves to be one of the most annoying characters you will see on the big screen.
Quite honestly, as you watch Ms. Smith repeatedly insult nearly everyone who tries to help her, you are left hoping that she is suffering from some form of diagnosed dementia. Without the ability to feel sorry for her, she becomes little more than a candidate for “annoying woman of the year.”
Allowed to park her van in the driveway of a caring homeowner, she rewards him by refusing to bathe and defecating on anything available outside her vehicle. That was a gigantic turnoff even accepting the fact that the legendary Ms. Smith was playing her.
The film is largely a true story, and the gentleman helping Miss Shepherd is accurately named Alan Bennett, the screenwriter for the film itself. He is played by Alex Jennings, and it is clear from the film that he had his own mental difficulties.
The movie has a large number of fine actors ranging from Jim Broadbent to Richard Griffiths, but they can do little more than express irritation with the conduct of the vagabond living on their street. While it was hard to understand how Mr. Bennett could tolerate this profoundly unlikable woman living on his driveway for close to 15 years, it was equally hard to justify why you just wasted close to 2 hours in a theater.