DVD Review: The Lady In The Van
The Lady in the Van is apparently a comedy-drama that tells the pretty much true story of Mary Shepherd, an elderly woman who lived in an old van in Alan Bennett’s Camden driveway for 15 years. Why did Bennett allow Shepherd to park her van in his driveway? Well the film would suggest that Bennett is a weak willed man with just a little more compassion than some of his other neighbors, though mostly just weak willed.
The film starts off however with a brief look at Shepherd’s back story and why she was a batty old fool. Without this little bit of puzzle to keep you hanging on, it’s likely that many a viewer would not make it through the one hundred and four minute run time. Because whilst it’s no where near as long as an Avengers film, it does feel like you’re enduring a marathon viewing off something akin to watching paint dry.
However if you manage to cinematically pull back the layers of paint and look past the double billing of Fight Club twin Bennetts, you’ll see an interesting story of many many layers, performed with mesmerizing perfection by Maggie Smith. It’s mostly a tale of societies reluctance to help the poor and down trodden, the homeless, the mentally ill. It’s also a story of what guilt can do to the human spirit, and how wrong advice can absolutely crush your passion for life.
Sadly however whilst the film is based on a true story set in the 70’s and 80’s, the issues so brilliantly portrayed are still a dangerous factor in society today, as we continually shun the mentally ill and the homeless in our unrelenting quest for more.
A beautiful, affecting film that is a battle to watch.
Rating: M Offensive language.