A Lady in the Van, a Girl on the Train, a Jacobite saga and a courtroom drama.
Biography/ drama ( M)
In the 1970s, Miss Mary Shepherd drove her Bedford van into London playwright Alan Bennett’s life – and into his driveway – accompanied by an “odoriferous concerto” of urine and Yardley’s lavender. And there she remained, a haughty and destitute dowager, until her death 15 years later. Based on a memoir that became a play, the film is billed as “mostly true”. By Bennett’s own account, Shepherd was far viler than this engaging, eccentric portrayal by Dame Maggie Smith, who brings a gloriously triumphant quality to the role. But in the moments when her facade crumbles, the loneliness and vulnerability exposed beneath her bravado is haunting.