THE LADY IN THE VAN

THE LADY IN THE VAN SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS D: Nicholas.


THE LADY IN THE VAN

SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS D: Nicholas Hytner 104 min. UK. Sep 14, 8 pm Scotiabank 12. See listings. Rating: NNNN


How many elderly women can Maggie Smith play without repeating herself? A lot, obviously. Her characterization of the homeless Mary in Nicholas Hytner’s adaptation of Alan Bennett’s play is fresh and always moving.

Alex Jennings plays Bennett – the work is based on his memoir – two times over, once as the man living his life, the other as the author writing about it. This is a piece as much about a writer’s ethics as it is about a high-born woman reduced to living in a van in Bennett’s driveway. 

Along the way, the film looks at ambivalence, timidity – Mary finagles her way onto the playwright’s property in amusing ways – and a man so intent on avoiding an emotional life that he has only his alter ego as a partner.

But Mary still dominates: infuriating, sometimes delightful – as when she wheelchairs down a hill –  and strangely entitled. 

It helps that Smith can make eating a scone into a dramatic event.

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