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The Lady in the Van

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United Kingdom · 2015
Rated PG-13 · 1h 44m
Director Nicholas Hytner
Starring Maggie Smith, Alex Jennings, Frances de la Tour, Gwen Taylor
Genre Comedy, Drama

The true story of the relationship between Alan Bennett and the singular Miss Shepherd, a woman of uncertain origins who ‘temporarily’ parked her van in Bennett’s London driveway and proceeded to live there for 15 years.

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Village Voice by Alan Scherstuhl

It's an honest and incisive and peppery examination of one of his life's strangest but most enduring relationships — and the way that timidity and kindness often work out to being the same thing.


Time Out London by Cath Clarke

A wonderful Maggie Smith plays all this dead straight, poker-faced for maximum laughs. It’s a peppery, unsentimental performance. She’s hysterically funny, till she’s not – flooring you as the regret and tragedy behind Miss Shepherd’s vagabond life is revealed.


Hitfix by Gregory Ellwood

It’s simply a very well done movie that features Maggie Smith’s best work in years (and, yes, she’s better here than any of her years on “Downton Abbey”).


Variety by Guy Lodge

Low on narrative drive, and marred by a misjudged final-act swerve into extravagant whimsy, Nicholas Hytner’s amiable luvvie-fest is enlivened by Smith’s signature irascibility.


Empire by Ian Nathan

Unshowy to a fault, Hytner delivers a fine, moving comedy of English manners between a writer and his eccentric tenant, which slowly deepens into an exploration of human bonds.


The A.V. Club by Jesse Hassenger

Though director Nicholas Hytner does his best to enliven the material, Bennett very much comes across as a dull man’s Charlie Kaufman, even more so when the movie ends with flat, unearned whimsicality. Good as she is here, Smith must cede this round to Dench.


New York Post by Kyle Smith

Smith’s appeal, just, holds together a thin plot upon which Bennett, who wrote the script, and director Nicholas Hytner have loaded gimmicks.

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