The Lady In The Van

Critics Consensus

Led by a marvelous performance from Maggie Smith, Lady in the Van wrings poignant, often hilarious insight from its fact-based source material.



Reviews Counted: 147

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Audience Score

User Ratings: 16,420


All Critics | Top Critics
Average Rating: N/A
Reviews Count: 0
Fresh: 0
Rotten: 0


Average Rating: 3.5/5

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Movie Info

This film tells the true story of the relationship between Alan Bennett and the singular Miss Shepherd, a woman of uncertain origins who 'temporarily' parked her van in Bennett's London driveway and proceeded to live there for 15 years.

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Maggie Smith
as Miss Shepherd
Alex Jennings
as Alan Bennett
Alan Bennett
as Alan Bennett
James Corden
as Street Trader
Frances De La Tour
as Mrs. Vaughn Williams
Dominic Cooper
as Theatre Actor
Jim Broadbent
as Underwood
Samuel Anderson
as Jehovah's Witness
Pandora Colin
as Fiona Perry
Nicholas Burns
as Giles Perry
David Calder
as Leo Fairchild
Marion Bailey
as Housekeeper At Convent
Cecilia Noble
as Miss Briscoe - Social Worker
Claire Foy
as Lois - Social Worker
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News & Interviews for The Lady In The Van

Critic Reviews for The Lady In The Van

All Critics (147) | Top Critics (41)

  • She's not easy to love and the film is slow-going and a little laboured in its attempts to shape her idiosyncrasies into a plot, but the gradual revelation of the reasons for her decline give Smith plenty of opportunities to soften her grouchiness.

    Mar 4, 2016 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • Bennett offers Maggie Smith a chance to renovate her own recent persona with a woman who's heroically alive. Smith takes it with both hands, giving us more of the loneliness and despair of old age than the glib comedy.

    Mar 4, 2016 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • Jennings' portrayal isn't as flashy as Smith's - the things she can do with just a glance - but the balance they achieve is absolutely glorious.

    Feb 12, 2016 | Rating: B | Full Review…

    Tom Long

    Detroit News
    Top Critic
  • There's an elegiac, sentimental quality to this film adaptation, from the manipulative meet-cute of Alan and Miss Shepherd through their disputations.

    Feb 5, 2016 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • You leave "Lady in the Van" entertained but troubled; it's an agreeably but oddly off-balance film, juggling and nearly dropping the star turn at its center.

    Feb 4, 2016 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • The joy of the film comes in watching Smith work her magic.

    Feb 4, 2016 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Lady In The Van

The biggest problem with this witless, excruciating movie is that it feels almost impossible to have any sympathy for such an odious old lady (is she supposed to be adorable in her annoying eccentricity? I can't tell), and I couldn't wait to see her die so it would be finally over.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

An elegant and amusing drama. This sweet movie is slow but the wonderfully talented Smith carries it through to the end!

Film Crazy
Film Crazy

Super Reviewer

Is it possible that all the pieces of a work come together beautifully and still the work is "meh?" Based on a true story of a homeless woman who parked and lived in a guy's driveway for 15 years, everything is well done here. It's inventive as all get out. And yet ... nothing explodes in your face. Is that even a criticism? I loved it, but ...

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer

The Lady in the Van is first and foremost a star vehicle (no pun intended) built around Maggie Smith's performance. She puts on the part like a comfortable old sweater. That describes this trifling slice of life to a T. It's cozy. The joy is watching thespians Maggie Smith and Alex Jennings in one amusing tête-à-tête after another. Their personalities clash and mesh at various points - she a grouchy curmudgeon, he a finicky chap that talks to himself. The discovery is what we learn about these two characters as the years pass. The drama is slight, charming and oh-so-British.

Mark Hobin
Mark Hobin

Super Reviewer

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