Friday, May 20, 2016

Love & Friedship

This review originally appeared on

For those who prefer their movies without  explosions and swearing, you can't go wrong with Whit Stillman's latest, Love & Friendship, which is based on a relatively unknown, early novella by Jane Austen called Lady Susan.

Like all of Jane Austen's works, the story is set in 18th century England, among the rich and the slightly less rich. Kate Beckinsale is the widowed Lady Susan, a gleefully conniving and amoral anti-heroine who manages to get exactly what she wants, even when it's so very obvious to those around her that she's absolutely The Worst. Chole Sevigny plays her equally amoral confidant from America, and Morfydd Clark is Susan's teenage daughter Frederica, whom Susan hopes to marry off as soon as possible.

There are a lot of characters to keep straight, most related to each other either by blood or marriage, and the movie does try and help the audience out by presenting each with a humorous bio card as they're introduced. The dialogue and satire are worthy of Monty Python, especially the performance from Tom Bennett as Sir James Martin; he's a perfect forerunner to the Upper Class Twit of the Year. (Amazed by the "tiny green balls" on his dinner plate, he asks his hosts what they're called. "Peas," is the deadpan reply.)

I went into Love & Friendship as a skeptic who never really got the appeal of Jane Austen, but I came out of it wanting to see it again, and wishing Whit Stillman would take a stab at adapting everything she ever wrote.

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