You have to accept that films, or movies, are just another way of relating stories. Some avid readers would say - not the best way! On the other hand it is a modern way. Well today I have encountered a reet good tale that began life as part of the memoirs of playwright Alan Bennett.
Alan Bennett is an English playwright, screenwriter, actor and
author. He was born in Leeds and attended Oxford University
where he studied history and performed with the Oxford Revue.
The Lady in the Van
The attraction of this story is many fold. It is important to know from the beginning that this was extracted from Alan Bennett's memoirs and as it said at the beginning of the film - the story is mostly true.
Another point of attraction was that it starred Maggie Smith, that most wonderful English character actress.
Both Alan Bennetts
There were several other interesting points about the way the film was put together. In the shot above you are seeing Bennett twice. He has this alter ego which from a writer's point of view was really clever. There is a Bennett who is the writer and there is a Bennett who lives his life. The interaction between the two is brilliant. It is a different take on one's conscience sitting on your shoulder. They spend a deal of time discussing the Lady in the Van and what should be done about her.
Then there a collection of interested and, in spite of themselves in some cases, well meaning neighbours. They are there to provide a snapshot of ordinary life and relationships between people living in London.
There is also the fact that Alan Bennett is gay but is cleverly hinted at rather than made an overt issue.
'The lady as a young woman'
A significant part of the story is Bennett's relationship between him and his failing mother, in comparison with the relationship between the Lady in the Van.
Maggie Smith at her best
Finally, there are the reasons why the Lady is in the van and spends 15 years on Alan Bennett's driveway.
All-in-all a fantastically well constructed tale with a fantasy ending.