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The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Other movies can take a back seat to this ‘Lady’

If I were presenting the Oscar for Best Actress, it would go to Maggie Smith for her role in “The Lady in the Van.”

“Smith rescues Nicholas Hytner’s film, “The Lady in the Van” from confectionery uplift that otherwise might have swallowed it,” said Christopher Orr of The Atlantic.

One of the year’s lesser-known films but certainly one of the better movies out there in theaters today, “The Lady in The Van” offers a great movie-going experience.

The film takes place in 1973 London and is based on the true story of writer Alan Bennett (Alex Jennings), who forms an unlikely, yet strained, bond with Mary Shepherd (Maggie Smith).

Throughout the movie, Bennett’s character often questions himself. We hear him talking to himself inquisitively about the strange woman in the driveway and her strange behavior.

Though he appears to be the film’s protagonist, Bennett serves as a foil to bring out Maggie Smith’s character’s more interesting characteristics.

“Figuring out what is true and what isn’t is one of the pleasures of ‘The Lady in the Van,’ but the foremost is watching Maggie Smith gloriously reprising her acclaimed stage performance,” said Frank Scheck of the Hollywood Reporter.

Maggie Smith, who portrayed Professor McGonagall in the Harry Potter series and also plays the Countess on the hit television series “Downton Abbey,” takes on a more humble role as an elderly homeless woman who not only lives in her van but also is carrying a heavy burden on her conscience. Miss Shepard is a novel character. She is tough, compassionate and interesting.

The music score draws from classical albums, and that classical feel proves to be a good fit for the film from beginning to end.

The film is not only about heavier topics. It also has its fair share of lightheartedness.

“The Lady in the Van” shows random hints of humor through characters’ interactions with the world around them. The movie as a whole feels uplifting.

One recurring comedic scene focused on the color of Miss Shepherd’s van. Throughout the story, Miss Shepherd would arrange to get a new van. After receiving each new vehicle, Miss Shepherd would proceed to paint it exactly like the last one.

This routine, although funny, proved to not have much significance in terms of the larger story. It felt more like filler than substantial character development, but its comedic value still added to the film as a whole.

Truly a movie worth seeing, I strongly recommend “The Lady in the Van” to anyone looking for a feel-good movie with great acting. It may lack special effects, but the film speaks for itself in ways that cannot be described in words. You may even be surprised at what you see toward the end of the film. All other productions can take a back seat for now. Go see “The Lady in the Van.”

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Patrick Cassidy, Staff Writer

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