Sunday, 20 March 2016

"The Lady in the Van" - Film

"Mary, as you call her, is a bigoted, blinkered, cantankerous, devious, unforgiving, self-serving, rank, rude, car-mad cow. Which is to say nothing of her flying faeces and her ability to extrude from her withered buttocks turds of such force that they land a yard from the back of the van and their presumed point of exit"

As a paid up member of the much-overlooked average man class, it will come as no surprise to any of my readers that I am not granted exclusive access to films upon their premier. I receive no tickets to Nice nor Hollywood, not even to dear old London. I too have to wait either until their cinema release or, the other less favoured option, when I purchase them from HMV (there are other sources of DVD procurement available.)  Thus, it is that my viewing of said films is often six months or more behind the Oscars and Baftas. I am, as you know a mere blogger.

This film, this "Lady in the Van," was released at the tail end of 2015 so doesn't really stand a hope in hell's chance of winning an award in 2016. But of course, my blog is a veritable 'hope in hell' even if it is to to further my own vainglorious ego and counts for little in the way of Global Awards. In other words, this is my blog, these are my rules.

It begins the film that is, in the black. We are not witness to events. By that I mean we cannot see what goes on only hear it. There is a screech of tyres, a loud bang followed by a scream. Next, a distant shot shows a grey van being pursued by a police car. The van does a sudden turn to the right thereby, momentarily, hiding from view, before reversing and going back whence it came. Unbeknown to the driver (Maggie Smith) her actions have been noted by the policeman in pursuit (Jim Broadbent). So the film begins.

As with anything to do with Alan Bennett the language is delivered with a no-nonsense impeccable wit. Dry as a graveyard full of jangling funny bones. His way with a sentence, be it long or short, is measured for the maximum effect which sort of makes him the equivalent of a heat-seeking missile.

The conceit used in the film is to have two Alan Bennetts. The reasoning behind this being the Yorkshireman is often said to be of himself a married couple. What this affords the audience, apart from supplying endless laughs, is a series of questions and concerns over all the playwright does. It applies a set of morals brought under scrutiny much in the way we ourselves reflect on an awkward situation questioning if we have done, or are doing the right thing. It also beautifully defines someone living on their own. For when there is no one there to talk to the alternative is to talk to yourself.

"Am I right in thinking that multi-coloured stain at the back of her frock denotes incontinence?"

Maggie Smith, of course, receives all the plaudits, deservedly so, her acting is beyond magnificent but mention must be made of Alex Jennings wonderful performance as Alan Bennett. He has the playwrights mannerisms off to a T. The way in which he hangs his left hand a little higher than that of his right resists being overtly camp but suggests the same. The manner in which his hand slips up as if to support his chin either in amazement or contemplation again brings Bennett into mind.

Among the many scenes worthy of mention, my favourite has to be when 'The Lady' asks Bennett if he will push her down the road in her wheelchair. He begrudgingly does. Once they reach they apex of the roads incline Bennett releases wheelchair and it incumbent from his grasp. 'The Lady' careens down the road, armed only with walking sticks in each hand, giggling like a child. If that is not the most moving moment of the film, and it isn't, then the scene where 'The Lady,' having been bathed and dressed in clean, smart clothes, escapes the day centre she was removed to before returning to her van lying in wait on Alan Bennett's drive. Having been offered a delightful bouquet of flowers from Bennett, which she derisorily dismisses, she then extend her hand, declares it is clean and asks Bennett to hold it. This he does. There then follows silent looks shared between the two as they grasp each others hand lovingly. 
I cried. 
I know.
But I did.
This is not a good film. It is an excellent film. One to watch over and over again.

Russell Cuts the Corn From The Brewers Whiskers.

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A Utility Fish Shed Blog

A Utility Fish Shed Blog