As a serial consumer of all things Austen-related, you could imagine my excitement upon discovering another one of the author’s works, Lady Susan, was getting the big screen treatment.
Directed by Whit Stillman, Love and Friendship centres around the much gossiped about Lady Susan Vernon (Kate Beckinsale), who retreats to her in-law’s country estate and quickly schemes to find husbands for herself and her daughter Frederica (Morfydd Clark).
You would be doing yourself a huge disservice by thinking that this is just another pleasant adaptation or fancy bore. The subject matter of Love and Friendship walks on the deliciously salacious side of life, and is quite frankly, my favourite comedy of 2016 so far. The book was certainly outrageous for its time, but even now the audience members around me spent most of the time giggling at the subtle adult references, or out-right screaming with laughter after Beckinsale delivered yet another stinger.
It’s almost upsetting how grossly underused Beckinsale’s enormous talent and comedic abilities have been all these years. She’s a revelation as the scandalous Lady Susan, and easily steals every scene. That’s not to impune the work of her brilliant co-stars, like the always refreshing Chloë Sevigny, who plays the Lady’s best friend Alicia Johnson, and Tom Bennett, who is adorably idiotic (in the best sense) as Sir James Martin.
While you can expect a period piece of this calibre to have great costuming and sets, it was really the snappy, sharp and strikingly modern feel to the script, not to mention the timelessness of the film’s themes that really stood out. Stillman has crafted the most memorable Austen-adaptation of recent years, and you really owe it to yourself (Austen fan or not) to catch this firecracker of a film.
Image source: Transmission Films