Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

The Lady in the Van

(UK, 2015)

After reading reviews and input at Metacritic and the IMDb, I realize this will be a minority opinion, but I really didn’t like this film. Won’t go so far as to say I hated it, but it was close. This is not really the fault of the writer or actors. Maggie Smith once more nails it perfectly. No, this has to do with the main character herself. I really disliked her.

It is the (mostly) true story of Mary Shepherd, who was allowed by the writer Alan Bennett to park her dilapidated van in his driveway temporarily, and stayed there for fifteen years until she was towed away, dead. He wrote a play about it, and now it’s been made into a movie. If this is an accurate portrayal of her (and Bennett had fifteen years to get it right) Mary is one of the most obnoxious people who ever lived. She would rather die than say thank you for the many kindnesses shown her by Bennett and the longsuffering liberals of Camden Town. She is nothing more than a bag lady with a bigger shopping cart. Now, I’ve got nothing against bag ladies, unless they are huge assholes. Mary fills the van’s interior and the driveway with her garbage and filth. She smells very bad. She shits and pisses in plastic bags … when she can be bothered to, otherwise she just drops trou and takes a crap on the driveway.

As if that weren’t bad enough, they use a device of the writer splitting in two, standing side by side with himself (a nice technical accomplishment, but done much better in Orphan Black), telling himself what he should be doing, and so forth. I found that incredibly annoying.

I did get one laugh. As another literary device, Mary comes back from the dead (the horror!) in the graveyard, and talks to Bennett. Then she is bodily taken up into heaven flanked by radiant angels. Whether intentional or not, it looks very much like a scene Terry Gilliam animated in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

I did not find one single thing endearing or humorous in the story of this piece of shit. What I was supposed to like about it, or her, completely eludes me. I would have kicked her ass all the way into the Thames far earlier than the first time I stepped in one of her turds. Fuck this bitch!