Love & Friendship
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LOVE & FRIENDSHIP is an adaptation of Jane Austen's novella Lady Susan in which a beautiful young widow Lady Susan Vernon (Kate Beckinsale) visits her in-laws’ estate while waiting for social chatter about her personal indiscretions to pass. While there, the intelligent, flirtatious, and amusingly egotistical Lady Vernon decides to secure a husband for herself and her rather reluctant daughter, Frederica. Enlisting the assistance of her old friend Alicia (Chloe Sevigny), Lady Vernon attracts the simultaneous attention of the young, handsome Reginald DeCourcy, the rich and silly Sir James Martin and the divinely handsome, but married, Lord Manwaring, complicating matters severely.
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Director Whit Stillman is not new to comedies of manners and makes this early Austen work very funny. Lady Susan is a woman with a “reputation,” but practically flaunts it as a badge of honor, pursuing her own desires despite the rigidity of her society. Way ahead of her time, she draws upon her femininity to turn men’s heads and excite them with her flirtations. The fact that they may be married doesn’t stop her.
The dialogue is lively and clever and a particular pleasure since so many movies have reduced dialogue to a bare minimum, letting visuals carry the story. Here, the stylish repartee, innuendos, and put-downs make for not only a funny, but also a highly satisfying, picture. Fans of Austen will love this film, as will those still suffering withdrawal from “Downton Abbey.”
The only bonus extra on the widescreen Blu-ray release is a behind-the-scenes featurette.