THE LADY IN THE VAN:   In case you didn't know, Maggie Smith is not slowing down.  She just gets better and better.   This latest piece of brilliant acting has Ms. Smith portraying a homeless woman who live in her van.   Finding suitable parking space is a problem until a London playwright, Alan Bennett (wonderful acting by Alex Jennings) befriends her and allows her to park in his driveway.  From the opening credit...."This story is mostly true." know you are in for a treat.   Mr. Bennett has a propensity for talking to himself, literally, so at times there are two Alans on screen, arguing and discussing Ms. Smiths character.   And what a character!  Discovering her past is part of the fun of the film as well as the mystery.  Who is that stranger (Jim Broadbent) that drops by in the middle of the night? Others in the wonderful cast of supporting players are Frances de la Tour and James Corden doing little more than a cameo (but a great moment on screen).  Based on the memoir by Mr. Bennett and later turned into a stage play with Ms. Smith, this is one to see. Amusing, at times whimsical, it is a beautiful look at the homeless problem and the people who are touched by it, particularly the writer, who in the end must decide if this is all worth writting about.  It is.  Oh, indeed it is! And when the writer takes over, the ending simply soars!    Right up there with Ms. Smith!

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