I went to see the film ‘Lady in a Van’ last night at Bonnington Theatre film club (good value, excellent use of local resource). It is a film that I have wanted to see for while. Maggie Smith is one of my favourite actresses and Alan Bennett always produces a memorable story. I hadn’t been prepared to be quite as moved as I was and admit to having cried openly at points of the film which touched me very deeply.
Without spoiling the plot for others, the film is about Alan Bennett’s fractious relationship with an eccentric homeless old woman who parks her dilapidated camper van on his drive initially for three months. Fifteen years later Alan writes the lady’s biography as a means of recording her exceptional life because he felt her story needed telling.
This is not a sentimental film. It holds a mirror up to communities and society and explores how we all regard and treat the poor, vulnerable and elderly. It reminds us that life can be cruel at times and that small misunderstandings and people’s bigotry and ignorance can thwart other people’s dreams. Alan also reminds us that our relationships with others are a mirror into our own souls.
Everyone has a career story. The lady in the van’s was fascinating. I strongly urge you to see the film if you haven’t done so already. But be warned- take some tissues!