Regency period drama comedy based on a work by Jane Austin. Lady Susan Vernon is a Widow without a fortune and travels from Friend and Family to Friend and Family playing everyone like a violin. Whit Stillman writes and Directs Kate Beckinsale as Lady Susan.
When the film first starts I just think, I’m going to miss Kate killing Werewolves, and the start of the film makes you believe you are watching one of those awful dramas that they forced you to watch during school in the 80’s. The overly loud chamber music is also another annoyance, but thankfully the performances and the script start to sing about twenty minutes into the film. Soon after that you are watching a very enjoyable film with some good comedy lines and characters that Austen is known for.
The story focuses on Lady Susan Vernon, who is widowed, and has either been left no fortune or has squandered it, she moves from country estate to country estate. She preys on the kindness of friends and family and flirts with any man who can aid her rebuilding of her life. After overstaying her welcome in one friends estate, and developing an affair with a married man, she places her teen daughter in a school, and travels to the home of her brother-in-law. The brother-in-law seems to only see the good in her, blind to the venom that his wife sees. Kate Beckinsale reminds me of a young Maggie Smith with the delivery of her best lines. Playing those around her to suit her needs and acting offended when one of her evil schemes fails to come true. I honestly think that this is Kate’s best role to date. Sure I prefer when she’s in tight black and shooting the guns to kill the Wolves, but she can’t do that forever and this finally tests her genetic talent. I’ve been a massive fan of her late departed father Richard, and if you’ve never seen him in Porridge do yourself a favour.
The rest of the cast, with some familiar faces in small parts do their jobs with what they have to the best of their ability. Fans of Austen will enjoy the lively back and forth of the script with sings of her better known and larger works. The story is filled with the terribly English characters that we’ve seen in old Jane’s adaptations time and time again. Breathing fresh air into the adaptation is the use of Dublin, my dear city, and there is a reason why Dublin is used. We were untouched by the bombings that leveled most of London during World War 2, so we have a lot of buildings of that period. It’s fun to learn.
Okay, so I’m not a massive fan of Jane Austens work, but I’ve seen a lot of her adaptations because I’ve broken too many mirrors in the past, this isn’t going to convert me to loving her work but the nature of the beast makes this one of the better adaptations for me. Kate Beckinsale, Chloe Sevigny, Stephen Fry (just about), and Tom Bennett all star along with many others. Tom Bennett gets a special mention because his character Sir James Martin is just the total package idiot, so comically perfect, that you just wish for more of his character to appear on screen. He also has some of the best lines through the whole film.
I’m often the butt of jokes from another reviewer because I believe that some movies are perfect for certain days. Some films are Friday nighters, some are Sunday afternooners, this is true of films in the cinema and movies at home. Love and Friendship despite the problems that the music and introduction of the characters gave me, the film is an enjoyable period romp that makes you happy. It’s a Sunday afternoon movie, sorry Luke, and I’m sure that I owe a few more years of broken Mirror punishment but if it’s like this I should be okay.
Director: Whit Stillman
Writers: Jane Austen (based on her novella “Lady Susan”), Whit Stillman
Stars: Kate Beckinsale, Chloë Sevigny, Xavier Samuel