Love and Friendship (2016)


Directed by Whit Stillman
Country: Ireland / other

In “Love & Friendship”, Whit Stillman (“Damsels in Distress”) presents us a witty dramatization of Jane Austen’s epistolary novel ‘Lady Susan’, dated from 1871.
In this period romantic comedy, he pragmatically takes the first minutes to introduce the characters one by one, giving us, at the same time, a well-adjusted orientation in order to proceed with this funny tale.

Lady Susan Vernon (Kate Beckinsale), a widow of questionable reputation, arrives in Churchill to stay some time with her in-laws while beginning a campaign in order to find a wealthy husband for her daughter, Federica (Morfydd Clark), and for herself.
She feeds the spreading rumors that her personal choice falls on Reginald DeCourcy (Xavier Samuel), her sister-in-law’s attractive brother, with whom she engages in long conversations and strolls. He ends up deeply infatuated but is promptly rebuked by his father who is concerned about the family reputation and future.

In the meantime, and invoking the fifth commandment: ‘Honour thy father and thy mother’, which she mistakes by the fourth, the charming but scheming Lady Susan literally forces her daughter to accept marrying to the silly, chatty, wealthy, and hilarious Sir James Martin (Tom Bennett), who aids his future mother-in-law with money and a new carriage. ‘Nobody knows the embarrassment of a young girl without a fortune’, she says. However, the bashful Federica is anguished with the idea and seeks Reginald to take the weight out of her chest.

The story takes a spin and evolves into unexpected directions, always carrying flattering tones, beneficial seductions, and polite conversations.
Moreover, the amusing “Love & Friendship” is brilliantly acted (Ms. Beckinsale and Mr. Bennett truly excel) and shot, under the attentive direction of Mr. Stillman who knows how to consciously place delicious characters within irresistible frames. The pic is constantly adorned with warm colors and the right props of the period.