Love & Friendship (U)
Dir. Whit Stillman
Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)
“Alas! (exclaimed I) how am I to avoid those evils I shall never be exposed to?”
Meet the gorgeous and flirtatious Lady Susan Vernon (Kate 'Underworld' Beckinsale), a Jane Austen heroine unlike any before her... Highly skilled in the ways of men, Lady Susan - who shares her name with the unfinished novella on which this movie is based - is on a mission to find both her and her daughter Frederica (Morfydd 'Pride and Prejudice and Zombies' Clark), eligible husbands, packing fortunes preferably.
"Ladies about town"
But being a widow, Lady Susan is obliged to rely on the kindness of friends and family (however distant), he life has become a whirl of visits and stays with those in her social circle. But she has a roving eye and isn't afraid of using her charms to ingratiate herself with other women's husbands, especially the rather dashing Lord Manwaring (Lochlann 'Vikings' O'Mearáin) - much to the ailment of Lady Lucy Manwaring (Jenn 'Brooklyn' Murray).
"check my Austen bouffant"
So the scene is set for a spicy romance-em-up which packs a biting sense of humour and a cool satire underneath the well observed social manners and incredible costumes. Much praise must go to Whit Stillman who directs with flair and has made a film which is a total romantically charged joy, full of wicked charm!!
Lady Susan is a force of nature and Beckinsale plays her perfectly, there is however another character who even out shines her - stealing every scene they are in... Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Sir James Martin (Tom 'soon to be seen in David Brent: Life On The Road' Bennett), a clueless bit rich, nice but dim conversation stopper who is inflicted with a kind of idiot tourette's. My lovely wife and I laughed loud and long at his antics which are just superb comic relief.
Lady Susan's one true friend is the American Alicia Johnson (Chloë Sevigny) - together they scheme as to how sad it is that Alicia's older husband Mr Johnson (Stephen Fry) hasn't died yet!? It is a revelation into the mind of Jane Austen and it makes you wonder if Love & Friendship isn't perhaps the best adaptation of work to date?
"Always time for tea"
I can't recommend Love & Friendship enough. It's a perfect date movie, a master class in romanic shenanigans and jolly good time all rolled into one. As Lady Susan might say: “it would be offensive to us both” if you were to miss it!
Out of a potential 5 you have to go with a Darkmatters:
(5 - Opportunistic, shrewd, cunning, unprincipled and brilliant)...
Awesomeness öööö – A good time to be had by all
Laughs öööö – Lots of real funnies, nothing offensive either
Horror ö – Totally safe
Spiritual Enlightenment ööö – alls well that ends well