The Lady in the Van

The Lady in the Van

Nicholas Hytner (2015)

12A Certificate


Our Score
Maggie Smith lets her hair down in the role of a real-life bumptious bag lady who lived in a van and found a permanent parking spot outside the Camden home of writer Alan Bennett. Naturally, he put pen to paper to turn this quirky, quintessentially British story of human connection into a book, then a play and now a film directed by Nicholas Hytner. Alex Jennings, as the cardi-clad Bennett, berates himself in dual roles - as the Bennett who lives life and the Bennett who writes - looking on with contempt and scathing witticisms. But this is clearly Smith's show. She is funny without tipping into caricature, yet openly vulnerable, too, and the friendship that develops between her and Bennett defies Hollywood conventions. Smith clearly manipulates Bennett's liberal bleeding heart and he wonders whether he is just too timid to turn her away, even as she defecates all over his home. They veer close to a moment of pathos towards the end, but it's not too profound. The social awkwardness leaves a more lingering impression - like the air inside that van, according to Bennett's vivid description.


The true story of writer Alan Bennett's friendship with an eccentric homeless woman, whom he befriended in the 1970s before allowing her to park her dilapidated Bedford van outside his Camden home, where she ended up staying for 15 years. Comedy-drama, starring Maggie Smith, Alex Jennings, Roger Allam and Jim Broadbent.

Cast & Crew

Miss Mary Shepherd Maggie Smith
Alan Bennett Alex Jennings
Underwood Jim Broadbent
Mrs Vaughan Williams Frances de la Tour
Rufus Roger Allam
Theatre actor Dominic Cooper
Street trader James Corden
Doctor Stephen Campbell Moore
Lois, social worker Claire Foy
Jehovah's Witness Samuel Anderson
Young man with earring Russell Tovey
Convent housekeeper Marion Bailey
Director Nicholas Hytner
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Other Information

Language: EnglishColourTheatrical distributor: SonyGuidance: Swearing.Available on: DVD and Blu-rayReleased on: 13 Nov 2015
Drama Comedy