The Lady in the Van

Movie review by Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
The Lady in the Van Poster Image

Common Sense says

age 13+

Maggie Smith is unforgettable in (mostly) true dramedy.

PG-13 2015 104 minutes

Parents say

age 14+

Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 12+

Based on 3 reviews

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Community Reviews

age 14+

Misleading trailer leads to disappointment

The language warning given in the other parent review here is excessive in my opinion. There's one use of "f***ing" (which was altered to "bloody" in the DVD version I watched) and occasional, contextually appropriate use of "s***". I'd say there are worse things to be concerned about with this film. I've rated it for 14+ because it requires maturity to really understand the point of the story. Younger kids are just going to think it's a boring movie about a horrible smelly old lady, and miss all the underlying messages about finding authenticity, purpose and fulfillment in life, etc. Put simply, it's a film for adults. I'm a big fan of Maggie Smith and enjoyed the trailer, but I was ultimately disappointed. There's little in the way of lightness or comedy. Miss Shepherd's past is downright depressing, with plenty of glimpses of institutional abuse, especially at the convent she joined as a young nun, as well as law enforcement, social and medical welfare agencies, and even within her own family. Alan Bennett's story isn't much more uplifting, as he deals with his mother's decline into dementia, his not-entirely-closeted homosexuality, and the struggles of finding success as a playwright and actor. I thought the story was going to be primarily about Miss Shepherd and her funny eccentricities; instead it's a film that is as much about Alan Bennett if not more, given that his character is literally split into two parts that have conversations with each other. (That of itself is not a bad thing, and I discovered later that the film is based on his own memoir which would explain all the navel gazing. It's just not the film I was expecting to see based on the trailer.) On the positive side, the performances are wonderful, and it's a testament to Maggie Smith's talent that she can make such an unlikeable person endearing in her own way. I would say this is a good film if you're in the mood for a character-driven drama. But if you're looking for something heart-warming, light-hearted, or uplifting, give "the Lady in the Van" a miss.
age 14+
Awesome for kids but not appropriate for kids who cant handle bad bad language

This title has:

Too much swearing

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