Set in the 1790s, Love and Friendship centers on beautiful widow Lady Susan Vernon, who has come to the estate of her in-laws to wait out colorful rumors about her dalliances circulating through polite society. Whilst there, she decides to secure a husband for herself and her rather reluctant debutante daughter, Frederica. (Synopsis taken from imdb)
Based on the unfinished epistolary novel, Lady Susan, by Jane Austen.
My friend Hamlette has been hosting an “I <3 Jane Austen” event on her blog this week, and I’m really excited to be able to join in on the Austentatious fun with a movie review of Love & Friendship!
The most recent Jane Austen movie adaptation came out last year, but I wasn’t able to see it until just recently (thank you, Amazon Prime!). Unlike most of the other Jane Austen adaptations I have seen, I did not enjoy Love & Friendship upon first viewing. The main character Lady Susan, played by Kate Beckinsale, is abominable. She’s the exact opposite of the typical heroine you’d expect from Jane Austen. As the movie’s tagline boasts, she’s “opportunistic, devious, shrewd, calculating, cunning, unprincipled.”
But, I really wanted to like this film regardless of Lady Susan’s character, so I gave it another watch and I’m really glad I did. I enjoyed the movie much more the second time around. The supporting characters are really entertaining, especially James Martin, who is so foolish you can’t help but laugh.
There are some terrific puns and subtle humor in this movie, and if you don’t pay close attention to the dialogue you’ll miss some really funny lines. Also, the costumes are lovely! One detail I appreciated was how oversized James Martin’s coat buttons were; it fit well with his overall ridiculousness.
As far as Jane Austen adaptations go, Lady Susan is intriguing and humorous, and at times it felt like watching Mansfield Park told through Mary Crawford’s point of view. And just as Ms. Austen would prefer, all the characters get their “comeuppance” and due rewards at the end :) I know the movie is critically acclaimed, but it may take multiple viewings for you to enjoy it. I’m really glad I gave it a second chance because it could easily become the type of movie I quote whenever a subtle sarcastic comment is called for…
Here’s the trailer!
Stop by Hamlette’s Soliloquy to discover more I <3 Jane Austen posts!