Lady In The Van, The

Featured In Issue 206, April/May 2016

WSR Score3.5
Basic Information on new release titles is posted as soon as titles are announced. Once reviewed, additional data is added to the database.
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
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Brief unsettling image.
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Single Side, Dual Layer (BD-50)
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Nicholas Hytner
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DTS HD Lossless 5.1
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The Lady In The Van is based on celebrated playwright Alan Bennett's memoir about Miss Shepherd (Smith),, an eccentric elderly woman of uncertain origins, who “temporarily” parks her dilapidated van in Mr. Bennett's (Jennings) London driveway and proceeds to live there for 15 years. What begins as a begrudged favor becomes a relationship that will change both their lives. (Gary Reber)

Special features include commentary with Director Nicholas Hytner, a making-of featurette (HD 13:46) and Playing The Lady: Maggie Smith As Miss Shepherd (HD 06:22), three deleted scenes (HD 04:34), The Visual Effects (HD 07:29), the theatrical trailer, and upfront previews.

The 1.78:1 1080p AVC picture was filmed on the street and in the house where Alan Bennett and Miss Shepherd lived for many years. Overall, the imagery is natural in appearance, but resolution is rather soft, except for close-ups. The color palette is naturally hued and generally warm in tone. Contrast is decent, though, shadow delineation is a bit unrevealing. Black levels are decent as well. Overall, the picture is appealing and cinematic. (Gary Reber)

The DTS-HD Master Audio™ 5.1-channel soundtrack is dialogue focused with additional narration on the part of Bennett’s inner thoughts. As such, fidelity is excellent. Jennings is split up into two characters—one for living, one for writing. Generally, the dialogue is decently integrated spatially. Surround is pretty much subdued. The orchestral score is the voicing of Chopin, Beethoven, and others, featuring piano. The music provides subtle surround envelopment. Fidelity is excellent, with wonderful soundstage depth. Overall, this is an essentially slow-moving, dialogue-centric soundtrack that works to support the narrative. (Gary Reber)