Who doesn’t think of the phrase ‘down by the river’ when you hear the prepositional phrase IN A VAN? In fact, not to get too far off the mark, I’ve thought of Chris Farley skits three times in the last week: motivational speaker here, the Gap girls-inspired by the Aunt Alexandra social hour in To Kill a Mockingbird, and my son said I reminded him of Chris Farley and the Zagat guide skits when I was reading him play reviews in order for him to make a choice for my upcoming NYC visit.
And while there are comedic aspects to The Lady in the Van, it’s far from lighthearted. This was suppose to be a calming movie after a stressful day of teaching and the opening audio (no spoilers remember) was enough to send me running for the hills, but I’m glad I stuck it out.
The director, Nicholas Hytner, is a famous dramatic director in England. The trouble with my movie re-awakening back in 2000 is that I am now finding a slew of movies from the 90’s that I did not see, but want to, such as Hytner’s The Madness of King George..one of these days.
Maggie Smith is a prolific actress (yes I did see The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie!) who never fails to make her characters both believable and empathy-worthy. The Lady in the Van is no exception. this is not a movie that makes fun of the elderly. if anything the film proves that most treat the elderly patronizingly, when they have so much to teach us about their longer experience on this earth. And isn’t this photograph of her, grand (click on the question mark symbol)?
While I disliked the conceit of double Alex Jennings at first, and even worse, his robotic sounding narration, I grew to like it we writers are in our own heads much of the time and an apt way to portray this is with ‘twins’.
I’m curious to know whether older people would find it entertaining or depressing.
Worth a full ticket price, at any rate.