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The Lady in the Van

7/10
Comedy . Drama . Biography
 

The true story of the relationship between Alan Bennett and the singular Miss Shepherd, a woman of uncertain origins who ‘temporarily’ parked her van in Bennett’s London driveway and proceeded to live there for 15 years.

 
Actors: Maggie Smith , Alex Jennings , Frances de la Tour , Gwen Taylor , Dominic Cooper , James Corden , Roger Allam , Samuel Anderson , Dermot Crowley , Jim Broadbent , Clare Hammond , George Fenton
Directors: Nicholas Hytner
Country: UK
Release: 2016-02-26
More Info:
  • Peter Rainer

    The remarkable thing about Smith in The Lady in the Van is that, even though the role is no longer fresh for her, the performance certainly is. She gives it everything she’s got because, you feel, she wants to honor this character. She wants Miss Shepherd to live on.

    Christian Science Monitor Full Review
  • Steven Rea

    Try not to let the film's overbearingly jaunty score get in the way. The Lady in the Van is quite a feat.

    Philadelphia Inquirer Full Review
  • Kimber Myers

    This isn’t an overly sentimental story; those expecting the emotional swells of other British fare like “Pride” and “Kinky Boots” should adjust their expectations. The Lady in the Van is a more buttoned-up narrative, but it’s no less engaging thanks to Smith, Jennings, and Bennett’s script.

    The Playlist Full Review
  • Gregory Ellwood

    It’s simply a very well done movie that features Maggie Smith’s best work in years (and, yes, she’s better here than any of her years on “Downton Abbey”).

    Hitfix Full Review
  • Rebecca Keegan

    A delicately written, boisterously performed movie about the difficult people who dare us to care about them.

    Los Angeles Times Full Review
  • Joe Morgenstern

    This English film, directed by Nicholas Hytner, is also wonderfully funny, terribly touching and a vehicle — with comically dilapidated vehicles — for the boundless gifts of Maggie Smith.

    Wall Street Journal Full Review
  • Alan Scherstuhl

    It's an honest and incisive and peppery examination of one of his life's strangest but most enduring relationships — and the way that timidity and kindness often work out to being the same thing.

    Village Voice Full Review
  • Ian Nathan

    Unshowy to a fault, Hytner delivers a fine, moving comedy of English manners between a writer and his eccentric tenant, which slowly deepens into an exploration of human bonds.

    Empire Full Review
  • Cath Clarke

    A wonderful Maggie Smith plays all this dead straight, poker-faced for maximum laughs. It’s a peppery, unsentimental performance. She’s hysterically funny, till she’s not – flooring you as the regret and tragedy behind Miss Shepherd’s vagabond life is revealed.

    Time Out London Full Review
  • Peter Bradshaw

    Smith’s performance, honed from the previous stage and radio versions, is terrifically good.

    The Guardian Full Review
  • Ty Burr

    The Lady in the Van ultimately presents a number of facts that would seem to “solve” Mary Shepherd. I’d like to think Smith knows better than that. In her hands, the lady in the van remains complex and unknowable — a mystery to the end. And that, friends, is acting.

    Boston Globe Full Review
  • Richard Roeper

    The Lady in the Van is about a talented young writer still wrestling with how to draw upon his own experiences without exploiting others — and it’s about the boundless talents of Maggie Smith, sometimes chewing up the screen, sometimes saying volumes simply by sitting very, very still, with a perfectly perfect expression on her face.

    Chicago Sun-Times Full Review
  • Michael Phillips

    Shepherd, apparently, was a genuine, needle-sharp wit and the way Smith plays her, the character's tart rejoinders are superhumanly perfect.

    Chicago Tribune Full Review
  • David Wiegand

    While The Lady in the Van is one of those quaint and quirky little films of which the British are inordinately fond, Americans will find it equally endearing, with the exception of the hideously over-the-top final scene.

    San Francisco Chronicle Full Review
  • Ann Hornaday

    There’s no denying the humor and pathos of The Lady in the Van, just as there’s no use fending off the force of nature that is Smith.

    Washington Post Full Review
  • Connie Ogle

    The Lady in the Van doesn’t give in to platitudes. It’s unnervingly honest about its subject.

    Miami Herald Full Review
  • Susan Wloszczyna

    For anyone who adores Smith—which is pretty much everyone these days—they will have quite a satisfying ride with this crusty grand dame behind the wheel.

    RogerEbert.com Full Review
  • Frank Scheck

    It's Smith's eccentric oldster who is the film's driving force, and the 80-year-old actress doesn't disappoint.

    The Hollywood Reporter Full Review
  • Peter Travers

    Look, it's fun to watch Shepherd hate on bratty children, classical music and liberal pieties. Smith's acid tongue makes any line sound better. But the subplot about a blackmailer (Jim Broadbent) who terrorizes Shepherd in the dead of night adds nothing, least of all a purpose.

    Rolling Stone Full Review
  • Kyle Smith

    Smith’s appeal, just, holds together a thin plot upon which Bennett, who wrote the script, and director Nicholas Hytner have loaded gimmicks.

    New York Post Full Review
  • Stephen Holden

    In Ms. Smith’s tough, levelheaded performance, Mary is an irascible termagant full of batty notions clutching on to life as best she can. She is hard to like, and that’s good.

    The New York Times Full Review
  • Guy Lodge

    Low on narrative drive, and marred by a misjudged final-act swerve into extravagant whimsy, Nicholas Hytner’s amiable luvvie-fest is enlivened by Smith’s signature irascibility.

    Variety Full Review
  • Jesse Hassenger

    Though director Nicholas Hytner does his best to enliven the material, Bennett very much comes across as a dull man’s Charlie Kaufman, even more so when the movie ends with flat, unearned whimsicality. Good as she is here, Smith must cede this round to Dench.

    The A.V. Club Full Review
  • Alonso Duralde

    The film has a killer case of the cutes that only Smith’s acidity can cut, and only so much.

    TheWrap Full Review
  • Elise Nakhnikian

    The film's annoying glibness is neatly summarized by the line: "In life, going downhill is an uphill job."

    Slant Magazine Full Review
  • Roger Moore

    It’s a film that flirts with cloying, here and there — especially at the end. But it reminds us, even before that U.N. recognition becomes official, that there’ll always be an England, that English manners survive, and there’ll always be a Maggie Smith, imperious, hilarious and glorious in that wonderful third act her life and career have given her.

    Movie Nation Full Review
  • Lawrence Toppman

    If you want a glimpse of a damaged mind and a thorough look at an artist’s healthier psyche, you’ll be satisfied.

    Charlotte Observer Full Review
  • Nathalie Atkinson

    Smith is never more beloved than when she plays just this sort of curmudgeon. Happily for the movie, Bennett’s Lady is the cantankerous one the performer was most born to play.

    The Globe and Mail (Toronto) Full Review
  • Calvin Wilson

    Based on a true story, The Lady in the Van is a well-acted but somewhat wearying exercise in British whimsy.

    St. Louis Post-Dispatch Full Review
  • Steve Davis

    It may not sound like much of a storyline, but there’s a subtle beauty in the ability of human compassion to cure one’s shortcomings.

    Austin Chronicle Full Review
Add Soundtrack
  • 1. Piano Concerto No. 1 in E Minor, Op.11: II. Romanze - Larghetto Performer: George Fenton, Clare Hammond & BBC Concert Orchestra Stream Music Online
  • 3. Impromptu No. 3 in G-Flat Major, Op. 90, D 899 (Excerpt) Performer: George Fenton, Clare Hammond & Philharmonia Orchestra Stream Music Online
  • 5. The Ascension (Miss Shepherd's Waltz) Performer: George Fenton & Philharmonia Orchestra Stream Music Online
  • 6. Piano Concerto No. 1 in E Minor, Op.11: III. Rondo - Vivace (Excerpt) Performer: George Fenton, Clare Hammond & BBC Concert Orchestra Stream Music Online
  • 14. Piano Concerto No. 1 in E Minor, Op.11 (Excerpt) Performer: George Fenton, Clare Hammond & Philharmonia Orchestra Stream Music Online
  • 16. Remembering Miss Shepherd Performer: George Fenton & Philharmonia Orchestra Stream Music Online
  • 18. Collision and Confession Performer: George Fenton & Philharmonia Orchestra Stream Music Online
  • 20. Walk Through the Cemetery Performer: George Fenton & Philharmonia Orchestra Stream Music Online

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  • based on novel

  • biography

  • based on true story

  • nun

  • motorcycle accident

  • guilty conscience

  • corrupt police

  • mental institution

  • catholic

  • london england

  • middle class

  • middle england

  • poverty

  • van

  • camper van

  • blue plaque

  • memorial service

  • social worker

  • nursing home

  • biker

  • cemetery

  • double role

  • playwright

  • ascension

  • gay interest

  • painting van

  • painting

  • paint

  • playing piano

  • piano playing

  • piano

  • flashback

  • playing music

  • toilet

  • neighbor

  • living in a van

  • old woman

  • blood

  • based on play

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