This is a lovely little film recommended to me by my movie-mad mum. Maggie Smith plays the role of Mary Shepherd, an elderly lady who lives in a van on Alan Bennett’s driveway for fifteen years.
I had heard mixed things about this film and went into it completely blind. This, I believe, helps to do away with any preconceived notions about plot and maintains the element of surprise.
Maggie Smith’s acting is completely peerless and she added a bubbling wit to whatever role she plays. Here, she comes off as more than the typical batty bag lady and her portrayal of the ‘batty’ Miss Shepherd saves this film from being mediocre. The film seemed to lack a cohesive time frame, and it felt as if no time had passed at all. Perhaps this is an ill-judged notion coming from someone who went into the film completely plot-blind but the lack of aforementioned narrative flow left me feeling slightly restless as a result.
The representation of the dual-sides of Alan Bennett’s Alex Jennings (The Queen, Five Children and It) was interesting because it looked at Bennett’s inner mind and thoughts as well as Bennett The Writer.
I wouldn’t quite describe this film as poignant but it shows that we should always our preconceptions about people because these can be the most damning of all. At the same time, Shepherd’s stubbornness against the norms of quiet suburbia shows she must’ve been a woman not to be trifled with.
MY RATING: *** / *****