The Lady In The Van

IMDb 6.7 104 min
Drama, Comedy, Biography
Maggie Smith, Jim Broadbent, Alex Jennings
Nicholas Hytner
United Kingdom
6.3 / 128 times
A semi-fictionalized account of London playwright and actor Alan Bennett's unusual multi-year relationship with an elderly, homeless woman he knew as Miss Mary Shepherd, who lived in her broken-down van, is presented. That presentation includes two discrete sides of Alan often conversing with each other, the writer side who viewed things from a more objective perspective, he who said he would never write about her, and the side that dealt with Miss Shepherd on a daily basis. Alan and Miss Shepherd's story begins in 1974 when she, already living in her van, parks her vehicle and thus her de facto home along a residential stretch of Gloucester Avenue in Camden Town where Alan lives, she having no intention of moving her van. Because of or in spite of her cantankerous and difficult demeanor in combination with she being elderly, some residents try to treat her with some measure of kindness, while others really don't want her to park directly in front of their home while being nice to her to her face, with both groups truly wishing she would move away completely. Beyond her cantankerous nature, she, in turn, would always treat anybody with who she dealt like she was doing them a favor. After moving her van a few times along that stretch of road to suit her own needs or wants, she ultimately needs to move it away from the street at least for a short period of time. That is when Alan offers to let her park the van in his driveway until "she sorts things out", he expecting her stay to be no more than a few months. Although Alan wants to give her her privacy and she doesn't divulge anything about herself willingly, Alan does eventually learn bits and pieces about her life and who she is which belie her homeless status. Those still hidden parts of her life include who the mysterious man is, he who comes by on occasion and refers to her as Margaret, and the story behind the crack in her windshield. Despite seeing this different side of her and thus caring more for her than he may have otherwise, one thing happens that he didn't want to happen: he becomes her unofficial official caregiver, as the government is aware of her, the social workers who stop by every once in a while looking to Alan to handle her care when they're not around.