- Actors: Morfydd Clark, Xavier Samuel, Kate Beckinsale, Chloe Sevigny
- Directors: Whit Stillman
- Format: PAL
- Region: Region 4 (This version of the DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
- Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
- Number of discs: 1
- Studio: UniversalSony
- DVD Release Date: 23 November 2016
- Run Time: 93 minutes
- Customer Reviews: 184 customer ratings
- ASIN: B01N0RWCSP
Amazon Bestsellers Rank:
253 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
- #177 in Movies (Movies & TV)
Love & Friendship (DVD)
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Witty adaptation of Jane Austen's novella from film-maker Whit Stillman. Kate Beckinsale stars as Lady Susan, a high-class widow whose waning finances threaten her status and lifestyle. Accompanied by her American confidante Mrs. Alicia Johnson (Chloë Sevigny), who is waiting for her elderly husband (Stephen Fry) to pass on, the sharp-tongued Lady Susan sets her sights on charming Reginald de Courcy (Xavier Samuel) in the hope of a marriage and financial security. Her plans are disrupted with the arrival of her daughter Frederica (Morfydd Clark), upon whom Lady Susan thrusts the dull, but extremely wealthy, Sir James Martin (Tom Bennett).
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But since Austen only authored a handful of adaptable works in her lifetime, most of the books have been repeatedly adapted into movies and miniseries. So it's rather refreshing that "Love and Friendship" is the first movie adaptation of Jane Austen's epistolary novella "Lady Susan" -- a fluffy and sometimes confusing tale about a delightfully amoral widow on the prowl for men with money.
Lady Susan (Kate Beckinsale) is a recent widow with limited finances and no permanent home, visiting friends and relations to keep herself afloat while she searches for rich husbands for herself and her daughter Frederica (Morfydd Clark). Unfortunately her recent flirtation with a married man has forced her to depart in haste, and instead stay in the countryside with her in-laws -- where she immediately entrances her sister-in-law's brother, Reginald DeCourcy (Xavier Samuel).
And after her daughter is expelled from her boarding school, Lady Susan thinks she's found a perfect match for her: the amiable but stupendously dumb Sir James Martin (Tom Bennett). But her attempts to coax her daughter into a wealthy match are thrown to the wayside when she becomes the center of a massive scandal in London. Only Lady Susan's cleverness can come up with a way of restoring her fortunes!
The original novella was a piece of juvenilia that Austen never even tried to publish, and which wasn't released until several decades after her death. So unsurprisingly "Love & Friendship" is not as deep or incisive a story as Austen's other period tales, but it is an amusingly sharp-edged, fluffy little tale -- less about social insights and more about a particular woman whom we really shouldn't like as much as we do.
And Kate Beckinsale does a pretty serviceable job -- she isn't quite as dynamic and dazzling as the role seems to imply, but she does a pretty good job as a beautiful, smart woman who unselfconsciously prattles off spectacularly cold-hearted lines like "What a mistake you made marrying Mr. Johnson. Too old to be governable, too young to die."
She also has some good chemistry with Chloe Sevigny as an American lady who married a stuffy gentleman, played by Stephen Fry. As for the other actors, they tend to veer between solid low-key performances (Clark, James Fleet) and some fairly out-and-out goofiness (the endearingly doofy performance by Bennett, Jenn Murray as a hysterically whiny wife who is out for Susan's blood).
The biggest problem with the movie is that it's a bit hard to follow all the melodrama and tangled webs around Lady Susan, and the resolution to all this comes rather abruptly. Also, director Whit Stillman has the awkward tendency to introduce characters with Quentin Tarantino-style title cards. But the journey is a pleasant one, full of lush country manors, pretty dresses, and some fairly clever comic-relief (Susan desperately trying to educate her dim daughter on the Ten Commandments with a curt "It's not a shalt not!").
"Love & Friendship" won't usurp the place of Austen mainstays like "Pride and Prejudice" or "Emma," but it's a pleasantly fluffy diversion. If other Austen movies are a good meal, this is a scoop of ice cream.
Top international reviews
Based on Lady Susan- part of JAs juvenilia - the characters are not particularly well developed but have been slightly enhanced for this adaptation. Can't really fault the casting or the acting; the script has been laboriously gleaned from an epistolary novelette and is probably only of any real interest to die-hard Austenites with open minds. My mother would've hated it. Personally I hate the zombie Bollywood and swap things..and am at heart a purist like my mum was, but this one I can quite enjoy in a Wilde way. Maybe its the beautiful Kate Beckinsale's stupendous portrayal of JAs archetypal bitch.
If you watch it- watch it several times and get to know the characters and story before you condemn it. It's fast and a tad hard to follow first time but a joy once you get to know them all.
Lady Susan is a wicked, cavalier lady who’s reading of men’s natures is so sharp, they are like putty in her hands. She is a widow with a daughter and wants the best for both of them. Alicia is Lady Susan’s confidante, but she is forbidden by her husband (Stephen Fry) to meet the dissolute widow. Their meetings are conducted in secret. Of course what is behind her peripatetic wanderings is a desire for freedom and sex and a flow of money. She flirts outrageously with men, whether married, single and rich or rich and foolish. She also keeps tabs on their parents and how long they’ve got to live. She impresses on her daughter Frederica(Morfydd Clark) how poor she has been and not to reject a man with wealth like Sir James Martin( Tom Bennett). His goodness being evident. However what happens can be missed in the crack of witty dialogue.
He is fool and foppish and has studied his manners out of books and stands with two poses, hand on hip or pointing and laughing his head off. Frederica is embarrassed by him. While she is paid court to by handsome, young Reginald Decourcy. Lady Susan controls groups of people and always gets her own way. Other women either cry, gasp or are staggered by her cheeky trickery. Beckinsdale is perfect at transmitting this girlish, airy innocence. Chloe Sevigny as her neutral aide-de-camp provides her anchorage for the frank exchanges and the film’s structure. Stillman cleverly has all her intimacies and her workings take place off screen, making her more mysterious. Tom Bennett brings a gusto of great humour to his part as idiot-suitor almost running away with the film. Stillman trusts his actors instinctively like' filming the ocean.'