Starring: Kate Beckinsale, Chloë Sevigny, Xavier Samuel
Directed By: Whit Stillman
Written By: Whit Stillman, from the novella Lady Susan by Jane Austen
Amazon Studios, 2016
PG; 92 minutes
5 stars (out of 5)
Because, honestly, I do love Jane Austen. So I was probably going to love this movie no matter what.
I haven't read Lady Susan, a sad omission on my part. But that made it all the more fun to watch this film and have no expectations aside from wanting to see some costumes and hear some witty period banter. Both of which Love & Friendship delivers.
The story is relatively simple. Lady Susan is a widow who must remove herself from the home of friends after she is accused of, let's say "unladylike conduct" with a married gentleman. She goes to her late husband's brother to stay with his family and has designs on one Mr. Reginald DeCourcy though his family does not approve. When Lady Susan's own daughter Frederica is shipped home from her boarding school wires become all the more crossed. Lady Susan wants Frederica to marry the addlepated Mr. Martin but Frederica resists.
I cannot do it justice. The whole of it has a lot of moving pieces and there are so many characters they are introduced, wink-like, with title cards. But it all adds to the fun, and the wit is definitely there. Beckinsale does remarkably well as Lady Susan, and Tom Bennett is a highlight as the the lackwit Mr. Martin.
Certainly it's worth finding a local arthouse and seeing this surrounded by others who will comprehend and laugh at all the jokes. But even if you can't find it playing near you, I'm sure Amazon will have it streaming before long. If you enjoy Austen and her ilk, and if you have no trouble keeping up with some rapid dialogue, this one is for you.