Film Review by Clayton Barnett
Set in the 1790s, Love and Friendship centers on beautiful widow Lady Susan Vernon, who has come to the estate of her in-laws to wait out colorful rumors about her dalliances circulating through polite society. Whilst there, she decides to secure a husband for herself and her rather reluctant debutante daughter, Frederica.
Kate Beckinsale steals the show in this fun and frivolous Jane Austen adaptation from director Whit Stillman.
90’s American indie director Stillman (The Last Days of Disco) might not have seemed the logical choice to adapt Austen’s lesser-known novel Lady Susan (first published in 1871), but his lightness of touch is the perfect fit for Austen’s comedy of manners. The fun mood here is infectious, and Stillman’s talent for dialogue and mise-en-scene shines.
This isn’t your usual period film either, in a fleeting hour and a half there are no wide-angle drawn out scenery shots or sumptuous balls and ballrooms. Stillman prefers intimate moments caught in corridors and bedrooms and the movie is all the better for it. He pulls out all the tricks to keep the movie humming along, and even uses cute character introduction cards to keep viewers on track with who’s who.
Stillman reunites with Disco damsels Kate Beckinsale and Chloe Sevigny, and it’s Beckinsale who’s in just top flirtatious form here as the sharp-tongued Lady Susan. And her supporting cast are up for the game too. Aussie Xavier Samuel is entertaining as Beckinsale’s young love interest, Stephen Fry is great as usual, but it’s British comedy actor Tom Bennett - playing an idiotic nobleman - who is just an absolute laugh.
Sharp, snappy and sumptuous this is a cracking period piece that sees Kate Beckinsale and director Whit Stillman in fine form. An absolute treat for Austen fans and newcomers alike.
Releases: 7th July 2016
Duration: 92 minutes
Genre: Comedy Drama
Starring: Kate Beckinsale, Chloë Sevigny, Xavier Samuel
Director: Walt Stillman (Damsels in Distress, The last Days of Disco)
The film was shot in 26 days
Sienna Miller was originally cast in the lead role but dropped out and was replaced by Kate Beckinsale.
This will be the second time Kate Beckinsale has starred as a character from a Jane Austen book. She previously portrayed Emma Woodhouse in Emma (1996).
This will be the second film that Kate Beckinsale and Chloë Sevigny have co-starred together in, the first being The Last Days of Disco (1998), also directed by Whit Stillman.
Based on Jane Austen's epistolary novel "Lady Susan", first published in 1871.
Amazon Studios acquired the North American rights to the film, and teamed up with Roadside Attractions for its theatrical release. Curzon Artificial Eye handles the film's UK release.