Miss Shepherd is a highly educated elderly woman living off barely anything in a small dilapidated van. She asks for nothing from her community, other than to be allowed her peace and to have a place to park her van. Constantly being moved by authorities, she finds herself taking up residence on Alan Bennett's road, much to the displeasure of his house proud neighbours. Despite her prickly disposition and shameless boldness, Bennett - a man of more timid and awkward nature - takes an immediate shine to Miss Shepherd, offering her his driveway to park her vehicle on a temporary basis. Soon, though, just a few weeks turns into fifteen long years as this impoverished musical scholar and this lowly gentleman of humble background become unlikely yet inseparable friends - a friendship rocked by Miss Shepherd's eventual ill health which soon strikes a sadness in the heart of the whole town.
Continue: Lady In The Van - Alternative Trailer
Once upon a time, a normal man lived in a normal house on a normal street. Then, something extraordinary happened. An educated woman - a scholar of both music and art - who lives in a van, takes up residence on the road. Miss Shepard (Maggie Smith) is insistent on staying in her van on the street, and the man (Alan Bennett), invites her to park her mobile home in his driveway in order to relieve his neighbours of the site. They agree she will stay for three weeks; she ends up staying for fifteen years.
Continue: Lady In The Van Trailer
Fans of micro-budgeted British indies will probably love this offbeat semi-romantic drama, but the fact remains that the film is mopey and contrived, with performances that never quite ring true. That said, it's a nicely shot trip around London with a few beautifully artful sequences.
The plot follows two strangers around the city as they get to know each other. Maya (Jourdain) is clearly annoyed by life when she meets a pestering Cuban dancer, Oriel (Vargas). He has recognised that she's a dancer too, so sidles up to get some advice for a big audition he's attending later in the day. But she hasn't danced for three years, and it takes a lot for him to get her out of her shell. Eventually she follows him to Sadler's Wells to watch a performance, then to a dance class he's teaching. And as his audition approaches, she realises that the stakes are especially high for him, because he won't be able to renew his visa without this job.
It's an engaging enough story, especially as this odd couple travels all over London by every conceivable mode of transport - car, bus, train, boat, bicycle. Jourdain and Vargas have plenty of screen presence, with the terrific physicality of trained dancers. But the characters are oddly strained. Maya barely speaks for the first half of the film (for good reason), which requires both actors to express themselves through awkward miming. And writer-director Payne encourages them to go over-the-top, with exaggerated expressions that ring false every time.
Continue reading: Love Tomorrow Review
Fortunately, thanks to the rambunctiously energetic performances and Nicholas Hynter's equally jaunty direction, The History Boys looks right at home on screen; what poses a larger problem is whether it will translate as fluidly from Britain to America.
Continue reading: The History Boys Review
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