“Two Strong Women”

Recently, I have seen two very different movies featuring portrayals of two very strong female characters.  0043396462939_p0_v1_s118x184.jpg  Based on true events, “The Lady in the Van” is the story of Miss Shepherd, who lived in a van parked in the driveway of English playwright Alan Bennett for fifteen years.  Maggie Smith, not looking at all like the Dowager Countess of Grantham, is Miss Shepherd.  Plagued by her past history, the strong-willed Miss Shepherd eventually takes refuge in a series of vans, which she paints yellow.  At first she parks these vehicles at the curbside, but eventually cajoles Mr. Bennett who allows her to park her van in his driveway.  Alex Jennings plays Alan Bennett.  It is through his narration that the story is told.  Both actors inhabit their characters.  What could have been a maudlin, depressing movie is transformed by the strong portrayals by these superb actors.

MV5BMzU0MTA0NzQzNV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMDMwNDk1MTE@._V1_UY268_CR9,0,182,268_AL_.jpg “Paulette” is a totally different movie, but also features a very strong female character.  Paulette, portrayed by French actress Bernadette Lafont, is a widow who lives alone in a housing project on the outskirts of Paris.  She offends practically everyone she knows with her strong opinions about everything.  She shows no love toward her grandson, whose father is black.  She even offends her priest who is also black.

After most of her possessions are repossessed because she hasn’t paid her bills, she discovers a surprising way to add to her income.  She convinces a local drug dealer that she can  successfully sell drugs.  And she does.   Eventually, she even includes her friends in the business.

Told with great humor, “Paulette” is a very funny movie.  Although, of course, selling drugs is not a humorous topic, the treatment is lighthearted and good escapist fun.

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