IN these days when everyone is obsessed with "value for money", you get to enjoy two national treasures in The Lady In The Van (12).

With this film they are really spoiling us for, as the playwriting colossus who is Alan Bennett, Alex Jennings looks and sounds remarkably like the Yorkshire genius.

But its Maggie Smith who steals the film as the gloriously unkempt Miss Shepherd, the smelly spinster who took up "temporary" residence on Bennett's drive in a decrepit camper van. She stayed for 15 years.

I suggest Ms Smith makes room for an award on her mantlepiece as this is a performance that awards are made of. She spends most of the movie crabby and cantankerous, scoffing at acts of kindness, but I liked the way Smith revealed her vulnerability later in the story.

Miss Shepherd HAS had a life, but I won't spoil the surprise for anyone coming to this warm, funny and engaging tale for the first time.

The script is predictably sublime - how I wish I could rent a room inside Bennett's brain. He has a fabulous turn of phrase.

On screen The Lady In The Van is less static than the stage play, no pun intended. If there's a moral to this story and the brilliant Bennett doesn't moralise here, it is never judge a book by its cover. There are many Miss Shepherds out there, I'm sure.

* Star rating - ****