Movie: Love & Friendship
Rating: 3 1/2 Stars (Out of 5)
Review: Lady Susan Vernon (Kate Beckinsale) is in a bit of a bind. With her husband deceased, a daughter in school with payment of bills being demanded, and more than a few scandalous rumors floating around decent society about her dalliances, she decides to impose upon her sister by moving into Churchill Estate. After all, family are the ones who have to take you in. Lady Susan has barely begun the dance of a new dalliance with the well to do and handsome Reginald DeCourcey (Xavier Samuel), when her daughter Frederica (Morfydd Clark) bursts onto the scene.
As it turns out, not only is Frederica a school dropout, she is being relentlessly pursued and wooed by the filthy rich and simple minded Sir James Martin (Tom Bennett). Now Lady Susan not only has to find a way to keep herself in the comfortable life style she is accustomed to, she has to fit her daughter’s interests into the plots and schemes she is hatching. Helping Lady Susan in the social web of intrigues is BFF Alicia Johnson (Chloe Sevigny), who is married to a much older but wealthy husband. There are other relatives and suitors weaving their way into this 19th century romantic potboiler, including the renowned womanizer Lord Manwaring (Lochlann O’Mearain).
Surprisingly, this is the first film version of Jane Austen’s novella, “Lady Susan”. The early English dialogue is wonderful, though viewers will have to pay close attention as it is often coming at you in rapid fire sequence. Kate Beckinsale is perfect as the scheming beauty who somehow manages to call the shots among all the other players. It is light hearted fluff, strictly fun, the 19th century version of a soap opera. It is worth seeing just for Kate Beckinsale’s gorgeous dresses and amazing collection of hats.
Dialogue Nuggets: Alicia to Lady Susan – “He threatened me with the most severe punishment imaginable, to send me back to Connecticut.”
Lady Susan to Gentleman greeter – “How dare you address me! Be gone, sir, or I shall have you whipped!”
A distraught Frederica – “But marriage is for one’s whole life!” Lady Susan – “Not in my experience.”
Lady Susan to Alicia – “What a mistake you made with Mister Johnson. Too old to be governable, too young to die.”
Sister referring to Lady Susan – “That woman is a fiend! She has an unnatural understanding of men.”
Sir James Martin – “How jolly, little green balls! What are they called?” Fellow Diner – “Peas.”