The Lady in the Van Review

“That’s the wrong type of paint you know?”

By Kate Hadley-Boyd


The most attractive point of going to view “The Lady in the Van” is the starring of Maggie Smith. The film is based off of the Alan Bennett novel, and both delve into the unlikely relationship between Miss Shepherd and Mr. Bennett, played by Alex Jennings. A similar character to previous Smith roles, the making of Miss Shepherd is portrayed immediately as stubborn and selfish.

Nevertheless, the direction of Nicholas Hytner left the film with a phenomenal air of mystery. It begins in the pitch black, with a crash, a scream and then the scene of a quivering Maggie Smith at the wheel of a bloodstained van. Yet no matter how shocked the audience feels, there is a sudden sense of defence on her side. An accident, a passerby, a scary bribe – these were all thoughts, floating in the mind thereafter – because it was Maggie Smith. For Smith to have a character that actually kills? Oh no, not possible; the mind does not compute that. The mind continues to pander this train of thought throughout the film. But no matter how many mysteries were thrown onto the big screen, the audience’s main concern is always placed on the health and well being of Miss Shepherd. She is “dying, probably”, after all.


The comedy reveals how a wealthy society comes to terms with an almost, practically homeless old woman living right outside their homes. It shows the gradual acceptance of Miss Shepherd, as well as her gradual acceptance of charitable acts and most of all, music.

The most shocking scenes of “The Lady in the Van” however, are the violent ones. Trailers for this film show the hilarious, happy side but there are still moments of pure shock and worry, when a strange man appears and starts threatening Miss Shepherd and taking her money. Let’s also not forget the other strange man in a really nice house by the seaside which Miss Shepherd seems to somewhat trust.

Although strange and slightly confusing, “The Lady in the Van” is a hooking film which reels the audience in. Never mind Harry Potter, and forget Downton Abbey. The real question lies at what else is there to know about the mysterious lady who lives in the yellow-painted van.

Lady in the Van has sold out at the Macrobert Arts Centre, so be sure to check their website and get your tickets faster next time, and also see what else is coming up!


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