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.
Here's my beef with Love and Friendship. They told the story. Emphasis on told. Not sure if they didn't know how to build the character backgrounds and cultural implications into an hour and a half-ish flick or what. It's like they assumed you understood some things but, needed to explain the bulk of the story via Lady Susan. Instead of building the story via scenes and acting and playing out the idea and letting the audience think and work out the connections....leave a little to figure out if you got it right or not, Beckinsale's character basically narrarated everything that was going on. As we walked out, I said to my wife, Downton Abbey left a pretty high bar for period pieces. The Jane Austin story of relationships and status and morality was interesting enough. The presentation just plain left it all in the book. You read a book, and you know you're reading a book. Director Stillman just had the book read to us by actors. It wasn't as interesting as that may sound either. I don't know if it was budget over directing but, this was a disappointing movie-fication of a book. Even the period environment was stumbling and stiff. Oh yeah, a hand maiden should do this. Oh yeah, the footman or, doorman or butler would do this. It came across as a poorly staged amateur play, where there was no fluidity. Other reviews said you'd be laughing out loud. Maybe a few snickers and giggles. I was glad it was only 90-ish minutes. If you're coming to this because Downton Abbey made you a fan of that period of England, I'm sorry to tell you, you won't be satisfied by Love and Friendship.
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