Moira+I went along to the Watershed this afternoon to see Nicholas Hytner’s film “The Lady in the Van” – based on Alan Bennett’s diaries. Maggie Smith plays the role of Miss Shepherd (as the Watershed blurb describes her: “a woman of uncertain origins who ‘temporarily’ parked her van in Bennett’s London driveway and proceeded to live there for 15 years”). In fact, Moira+I had seen Maggie Smith AND Alan Bennett (playing himself!) in the stage version at the Queens Theatre, London in 1999 (actually it opened in November 1999, so we probably saw it in early 2000?)… and we’ve still got the programme to prove it! I’d seen the trailer for the film and, frankly, I didn’t think much of Alex Jennings (who played Bennett in the film) – but I’ll put up my hands and admit that I was wrong… he was very good.
Anyway, the film
is absolutely great!
I’d forgotten that (in real life) this snarly, needy, old
woman had, in fact, once been a concert pianist… and it reminded me of how,
many years ago, I’d been somewhat dismissive (only in my own head, not out
loud!) of a man named Ron, who’d played the organ at our church for over 50
years. VERY unfairly, I’d regarded him as being well past his sell-by date in
terms of his playing ability (isn’t that awful!) and then heard someone describe
him as having once been a wonderful athlete in his day… and a county sprint
champion indeed! I think we’re all rather inclined to be somewhat dismissive of
the elderly (hang on, I’m elderly now!) and are apt to forget that they might
once have achieved significant things in their lives.
Anyway, when we saw her on stage, 16 years ago, Maggie Smith was
simply brilliant… but, I have to say, she was EVEN better(!!) in this film
version (and clearly really enjoyed playing the role again).
SURELY, this was
an Oscar-winning performance? She was stunningly good.
You need to see
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