The Lady in the Van | Chicago Reader

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Rated PG-13 · 104 minutes · 2016

Comedy drama
The homeless, mentally ill woman who spent 15 years camping in the driveway of playwright Alan Bennett has given him material for a short story, a play (staged in the West End and adapted by BBC Radio), and now a film, starring Maggie Smith in a role that seems tailor-made for her drollery. As screenwriter, Bennett downplays the story's depressing theme that what we call caring is more often personal lassitude; instead he livens up a narrative that trades heavily in reminiscence by splitting the character based on himself into two people—the Alan who lives his life and the Alan who writes (both played by Alex Jennings, whose comic underreactions call to mind Jack Benny)—and this proves to be a rich vein for Bennett's comic musing. The movie was shot in London's Camden borough, in the same house where Bennett actually lived, and there's a sense that, though the lady in the van is long dead, she's still parked in her host's head. Nicholas Hytner directed; with Jim Broadbent.
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Director: Nicholas Hytner
Producer: Nicholas Hytner, Damian Jones, Kevin Loader, Christine Langan, Ed Wethered, Miles Ketley and Charles Moore
Cast: Maggie Smith, Alex Jennings, Roger Allam, Deborah Findlay, Frances de la Tour, Gwen Taylor, Jim Broadbent, David Calder, James Corden, Dominic Cooper, Russell Tovey, Samuel Barnett, Geoffrey Streatfield, Clare Hammond and Samuel Anderson

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