The Lady in the Van

November 22, 2016 - A playwright in 1970's London lets a homeless woman park her van in his driveway, effectively making him her caretaker for the next 15 years. Dame Maggie Smith plays the homeless woman. Alex Jennings is the playwright, Alan Bennett, who wrote the script.

As the movie opens, we see Smith in a nun's habit. She's behind the wheel of a van that has obviously hit something and she succeeds in giving a copper the slip. Next thing we know, Miss Shepherd (Maggie) and her van are hanging out in the upwardly mobile Camdentown section of London, where playwright Alan Bennett has just bought a house.

Bennett's neighbors tell him that Miss Shepherd moves her van from house to house. Soon enough, he finds it outside his house. Eventually, it's towed away. But, the resourceful Miss Shepherd somehow scrapes together enough money to buy another van, and she convinces Bennett to let her park it in his driveway on a temporary basis.

That temporary basis turns into 15 years, during which time Bennett argues with himself about just how much he should involve himself in Miss Shepherd's life. Mostly, he lets her be, but he is curious enough to try to find out just who this woman was before she became Miss Shepherd.

Overall review: ** I remember seeing previews for this in the theatre and thinking it looked like a "must see." Well, I never got around to seeing it in the theatre and that's OK. The film had some good scenes, but they didn't quite come together as a whole. I could never figure out how much time had passed, and I could never figure out how Miss Shepherd managed to afford a "new" van and a TV. At one point, we saw her selling pencils. I guess she sold a lot of them.