Uma pausa no dia para alimentar a mente e o espírito - Compilação dos Melhores artigos encontrados na net
Barra de vídeo
domingo, 15 de novembro de 2015
The Lady in the Van review: 'cosily enjoyable'
Maggie Smith is a tottering, staggering force of nature in this cherishable adaptation of Alan Bennett's beloved play
It’s 16 years since Maggie Smith first played the role of Miss Mary Shepherd, the dilapidated driveway resident at the centre of Alan Bennett’s The Lady in the Van. Curiously, that’s almost the same length of time that the real-life character spent stubbornly parked outside the playwright’s Camden home. The intervening years have only deepened Smith’s ability to connect with this part, and watching her revisit it for Nicholas Hytner’s cosily enjoyable screen adaptation is to feel art being fused with life in all sorts of ways.
Bennett’s play, one of the most self-reflexive in a career famously devoted to squinting in the mirror, muses on his love of old ladies – not just Smith’s Shepherd, but his mother, whom he moved into a nursing home at that time. It works as both a detective story and epitaph to the enigma outside his front door for all those years: a former concert pianist reduced to a grumbling, indigent and almost wholly unwashed existence in a Bedford van. Bennett talks, in the film’s opening minutes, of her “odoriferous concerto” with “urine only a minor component” under stifling application of Yardley’s Lavender.
That impeccable technician Alex Jennings takes the role of Bennett – or rather, both Bennetts. It’s one of the film’s wittier notions that Alan Bennett tends to sound like an old married couple at all times, and therefore holds dialogue with himself on screen: bickering chit-chat between the writer and the man. Jennings’s nifty, neatly differentiated double performance is a real strength of the screen transfer: constantly sipping tea in his-and-his cardigans, he captures the mannerisms and that grave twinkle very skilfully.
Bennett’s acquaintance with Miss Shepherd began with a typically thankless favour – she wanted her van moved down the street to a new berth, until someone’s music lessons irritated her enough to move on again, and again, before installing herself permanently in his off-street parking. Not once, for all the charity, baked goods and Christmas presents given her by Bennett and his well-heeled neighbours over the years, does she utter a single thank you, or even so much as a nod. Bennett sums her up as “bigoted, rank, rude”, but as he gets the measure of her, also comes to reflect on her “vagabond nobility”.
As before, so now, this is a lavish gift of a role for Smith, a layered gateau handed to her on a plate. She makes this hardy troglodyte a tottering, staggering force of nature, determined to owe nothing to anybody. We know that carapace of trademark Maggie Smith rudeness by now like the back of a weathered hand.
But it’s her voice that gets the best workout: she whips out those inimitable aggrieved trills, coloratura arias of offence and protest. Mary simply won’t die until she feels like it. It might be the Maggiest of Maggie Smith performances humanly imaginable at this late career stage.
Hytner, porting one of his Bennett stage productions to the screen for the third time, is mostly content to bask in these virtuosic star turns, and that’s fine. There’s something a little self-indulgent about the movie, which can feel like a scherzo striving for importance – translating whimsy into profundity takes an alchemy it doesn’t quite possess.
It says a lot that just about every surviving cast member from this director’s screen version of The History Boys pops up for a cameo – Jamie Parker as an estate agent, James Corden as a market trader, and literally half a dozen others. It’s a communal lap of honour, like watching Hytner and Bennett rotate through their greatest hits on shuffle. Frances de la Tour plays the widow of Ralph Vaughan Williams, Roger Allam a slimy hypocrite of a neighbour. Perhaps it depends if you want all your national treasures dumped out of the chest at once.
There are cherishable lines and moments – “There’s air freshener behind the Virgin”, says a local priest to the parishioner unfortunate enough to follow Mary into the confession booth. Her heedless smearing of mimosa paint on the driveway brickwork is a lovely touch. But a few too many of Bennett’s jokes are pure formula: making any old Northern-sounding generalisation preceded by the words “This is London”, or “This is England”, won’t quite do.
This might sound like nit-picking. It's fair to say that if you have the tiniest hint of a Bennett allergy, The Lady in the Van is unlikely to be the cure. But of one thing, there’s even less doubt: it's guaranteed to please absolutely everyone who already knows they’ll love it.