Tuesday, May 31

REVIEW: Love & Friendship

Directed by Whit Stillman
2016 Comedy Drama
1 hour 32 minutes
From Roadside Attractions

Kate Beckinsale
Xavier Samuel
Morfydd Clark
Tom Bennett
Jemma Redgrave
James Fleet
Chloe Sevigny
Stephen Fry

It is based on a Jane Austen work and we know what that means: a trip back to Merry Olde England when hoop skirts, elaborate hairstyles, grand homes, a gentle clashing of classes and the dependence of women upon marriage to guarantee social standing and financial security.  For a dude, I like Austen well enough, I guess, although I have never sung her praises as I know some have. I must like to see the things on the screen that she writes about since I have seen all the films based on her works.  

I've noticed a tagline for the film says based on Jane Austen's comic gem.  That seems a bit more hype than fact.  If it's such a gem, why are we not getting around to it til now? In most ways, the storyline is right on course with most all of her works, so at that level there's certainly nothing very original here. From the standpoint of her writing, actually it was one of her earliest works, a novella called Lady Susan.

There is, in fact, comedy... I had a couple of quick laughs while the mostly female audience had many more.  The comedy was too subtle and too British and too Austen for some folks I know (not at all well, mind you) and it was decidedly dark.

Here's a hoot... Lady Susan is a sexual predator.  Yep. No lie.  Our dignified Janie must have been fanning herself and applying cold compresses while she was writing this one.  And there's more. Lady Susan manipulates, abuses, denigrates and betrays everyone in her path.  Her weapon of choice?  Charm.  She is unctuous, lethal and in the case of Kate Beckinsale playing her, beautiful.  

More specifically Lady Susan is a recent widow who, along with her daughter, has come to stay with her in-laws in the country while waiting for some salacious rumors about her to wind down in London. While completely taking advantage of her hosts' kind natures, she sets about to arrange a marriage for her reluctant daughter and one for herself.

It's certainly a talky piece (I expected that) and while I appreciated the humor and the dark undertones, I still found it all just a teensy bit dull.  Maybe I was just anxious to get out in this lovely sunshine and my convertible.

The good news is Beckinsale.  She's the whole movie, really, and does a fine job.  The supporting cast was letter-perfect as well with the exception of Chloe Sevigny. Although she's playing an American, I thought she was miscast.  She looked uncomfortable saying the words and wearing those clothes.  

Of course the look of the film is sensational and most definitely one of the reasons I wanted to see it.  I was not disappointed.

Next posting:
A Good 40s Film  

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