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.
"Love And Friendship" is not classified as a comedy but that's the only way it succeeds. Our website calls it a drama/romance but those labels don't capture the essence of Jane Austen's late 18th century novella, gorgeously filmed and impeccably acted by a predominantly British cast.
In a nutshell; Lady Susan is recently widowed and now relies on the kindness of friends and relatives for shelter as she is very short of money. So she bounces from estate to estate endearing herself to the menfolk and is notorious among the ladies. Lady Susan is very beautiful and flirtatious; a husband is needed to achieve stability as well as position, not to mention a reliable source of income (We have to infer much of this information from the plot; Lady Susan is not a flamboyant character, like Auntie Mame).
"Love And Friendship" sports first class production values as well as a sophisticated literary background. Kate Beckinsale is good as Lady Susan and the rest of the cast is even better. Midway through the film gets a needed boost from Tom Bennett, who plays the oafish Sir James Martin. He is an oasis in the midst of the arid screenplay, which cries for more of his bumbling presence.
This is a movie for grownups in a landscape festooned with juvenile entertainment. It is difficult to find fault with any part of this handsomely mounted production which is graced by Jane Austen's relentlessly clever dialogue and the skilled direction of Whit Stillman ("Metropolitan", "The Last Days Of Disco"). Well done all around despite the bland storyline.
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