Alan Bennett and Nicholas Hytner, who collaborated on the film adaptation of Bennett’s queer classic The History Boys, re-team for the wonderful and quirky true story, The Lady in the Van. Fifteen years ago, a homeless elderly woman called Mary Shepherd moved her battered van into Bennett’s driveway and refused to leave. Bennett let her stay, but quips "one seldom was able to do her a good turn without some thoughts of strangulation." At first convinced Shepherd is a rude, curmudgeonly old woman, Bennett soon learns that there is more beneath the surface, an almost regal staunchness in the face of difficulties.
Maggie Smith relishes her role, turning Mary Shepherd into a tottering, staggering force of nature, determined to owe nothing to anybody. She gives a stellar performance, as do the supporting cast and cameos, many of whom will be remembered by keen eyes from The History Boys, including Jamie Parker and James Corden. A whimsical, comfortably heartwarming tale, The Lady In The Van is sure to become an audience favourite.
"A delicately written, boisterously performed movie about the difficult people who dare us to care about them." - Los Angeles Times
"Wonderfully funny, terribly touching and a vehicle-with comically dilapidated vehicles-for the boundless gifts of Maggie Smith." Wall Street Journal
"Smith's performance, honed from the previous stage and radio versions, is terrifically good." - The Guardian
Screens with (Event Cinemas George Street only):
Putting on the Dish
Directed by Brian Fairbairn and Karl Eccleston
UK; Polari (English), 6 minutes
Two strangers strike up a conversation on a park bench about life, sex and the hostile world they find themselves in as gay men. The conversation might be commonplace, but the language isn't, because the two men are speaking in Polari.
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