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The Lady in the Van: Wistful tale is just Van-tastic

By Staff Reporter

Alan (Alex Jennings) moves into a house in Camden and is befriended by well-to-do neighbours including opera fans Rufus (Roger Allam) and Pauline (Deborah Findlay), who live opposite, and statuesque Ursula Vaughan Williams (Frances de la Tour). Soon after, a cantankerous woman called Miss Shepherd (Maggie Smith) settles in their street in her ramshackle vehicle and bullies Alan into pushing her transport, when it refuses to start during a downpour.

When council bureaucracy threatens the old woman's future, the playwright foolishly agrees to let her take up temporary residence on his driveway for a few weeks. Months turn into years and the playwright despairs as he becomes Miss Shepherd's guardian and suffers regular visits from interfering social services worker Miss Briscoe (Cecilia Noble).

When a police officer called Underwood (Jim Broadbent) begins to harass the old woman late at night, Alan speculates about her former life. Meanwhile, Miss Shepherd seeks forgiveness for unspoken sins in the confessional of the local priest (Dermot Crowley).

The Lady In The Van is an amusing and heart-warming tonic for these cold winter months.

Three stars

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