Ten out of ten
Love & Friendship (2016)
User ReviewsReview this title
Ten out of ten
Thanks to the standout performance from Kate Beckinsale, and the manner in which words from Austen and Stillman go zipping by (sometimes honestly, sometimes not), this is one fun and briskly-paced romp more descriptions not typically associated with the prim Ms. Austen. Ms. Beckinsale as Lady Susan Vernon flashes spunk and comedic timing that we have not previously seen from her. She fits marvelously in the dress of the late 1700's, while packing a diabolical and manipulative nature more often displayed in contemporary settings.
The supporting cast seems to be having a marvelous time. Chloe Sevigny is Alicia, Lady Susan's confidant and gossip buddy and one whose husband (Stephen Fry) continually threatens to ship back to Connecticut (as if it were the coal mines or outback). Emma Greenwell is Catherine DeCourcy Vernon, adversary and sister-in-law to Lady Susan, and Mofryd Clark plays Frederica, Susan's somewhat mousy and inconvenient daughter.
Though the women are standouts here, the men hold their own. Xavier Samuel is Reginald DeCourcy, the somewhat naïve and susceptible-to-advances-from-Susan young man, and Tom Bennett manages to steal most every scene as the quite silly and funny (and wealthy) Sir James Martin. Adding their own special touches are James Fleet and Jemma Redgrave as Sir Reginald DeCourcy and Lady DeCourcy, respectively; and Jenn Murray as Lord Manwaring one of three suitors to Lady Susan.
This spoof/parody will strike a chord for anyone accustomed to the uptight nature of most period pieces, as well as the importance of status, decorum and the corresponding insecurities (a weakness the cunning Lady Susan will most certainly seize upon). Mr. Stillman (Damsels in Distress, The Last Days of Disco) is an immensely talented writer, and certainly a welcome complement Ms. Austen's posthumously published work. It's a deliciously funny and intricate story that features such quips of gold as "Facts are horrible things." Welcome to the zany verbal barrages of Lady Susan, Whit Stillman and Jane Austen. Yep zany and Jane Austen in the same sentence. I told you she ROCKS!
Playing many different ends against the middle, Lady Susan – with the collusion of her American friend Alicia (Chloë Sevigny) – attempts to both find a suitably rich suitor for her daughter Frederica (Morfydd Clark) as well as finding a rich husband for herself to allow her to stay in the manor (sic) to which she has become accustomed. A tale of deception, pregnancy and a marriage of convenience follows: does Lady Susan have to choose between her sexual desires and the rich, stupid and dull Sir James Martin (Tom Bennett, "David Brent: Life on the Road"). Or can she have her cake and eat it?
Based on a Jane Austen short story, "Lady Susan", this is a delight from beginning to end. However, it does require the attention of the viewer: characters get introduced to you in rapid fire succession, and keeping track of who's who and how they interrelate is quite a challenge.
But this is a tour de force for Kate "Underworld" Beckinsale who delivers a depth of acting ability that I've not seen from her in the past. Her comic timing is just sublime, and while comedies are often overlooked in Awards season, this is a role for which she richly deserves both BAFTA and Oscar recognition.
Stephen Fry joins what is a superb ensemble cast. But outstanding among them is Tom Bennett who is simply hilarious as the nice but dim Sir James. The comic routine about his misunderstanding of "Churchill" (Church – Hill) – a running gag – is sublime and a challenger (with "Was that it t'were so simple") for the comedy routine of the year.
Directed by Whit Stilman ("The Last Days of Disco") from his own screenplay, this is one for the more sophisticated viewer: requiring of your full attention, but a treat for the eyes, ears and brain.
(For the graphical version of this review please visit http://bob-the- movie-man.com. Thanks.)
This film, as in other Austin films, is set in the Regency period in Britain (the very early 19th century). However, the filmmakers actually chose to make the film in Ireland...and it's a nice substitute. When the film begins, Lady Susan Vernon (Kate Beckinsale) is abruptly leaving the Manwaring estate. You have no idea why but soon learn that Lady Susan is a rather poor woman and generally visits with friends and family in order to sponge off them. She also feels no particular obligation to pay her mounting debts...after all, she is Lady Susan! Her sister-in-law, Catherine Vernon (Emma Greenwell) isn't completely thrilled with the visit to her home, as Lady Susan has the reputation as a very beguiling yet vicious woman...all done with a smile. Catherine is also soon alarmed because her nice but slightly dim brother, Reginald DeCourcy (Xavier Samuel) is captivated by Lady Susan and would love to marry her. Oddly, despite Lady Susan being a horrible and conniving woman, when her daughter, Frederica (Morfydd Clark) joins them at their estate, she is nothing like her mother...and the audience hopes and prays that dopey Reginald recognizes Frederica and Susan for who they truly are. However, Susan is determined to have Reginald for herself and instead foist the incredibly boring and stupid Sir James Martin (Tom Bennett) onto Frederica. Can this master manipulator be stopped or will she soon manage to make three other people completely miserable?
This film is quite funny but the humor is nothing like the long string of brain-dead and worthless parodies of films such as Disaster Movie and Date Movie. Instead of being broad and written for the average 10 year-old, Love & Friendship is often very subtle and is filled with wit that should appeal to Austin fans. But it's also the sort of well-crafted film that just has a limited appeal to broader audiences. It's a shame, as it's very well directed, sports a clever script and has lots of wonderful supporting actors such as Steven Fry and James Fleet (who is my favorite in the supporting cast). For fans of the author it's a must-see...others might just want to wait until this comes to Netflix or DVD.
For fans, I'd give this one a 10. For all others, perhaps a 5 or 6.
In a nutshell; Lady Susan is recently widowed and now relies on the kindness of friends and relatives for shelter as she is very short of money. So she bounces from estate to estate endearing herself to the menfolk and is notorious among the ladies. Lady Susan is very beautiful and flirtatious; a husband is needed to achieve stability as well as position, not to mention a reliable source of income (We have to infer much of this information from the plot; Lady Susan is not a flamboyant character, like Auntie Mame).
"Love And Friendship" sports first class production values as well as a sophisticated literary background. Kate Beckinsale is good as Lady Susan and the rest of the cast is even better. Midway through the film gets a needed boost from Tom Bennett, who plays the oafish Sir James Martin. He is an oasis in the midst of the arid screenplay, which cries for more of his bumbling presence.
This is a movie for grownups in a landscape festooned with juvenile entertainment. It is difficult to find fault with any part of this handsomely mounted production which is graced by Jane Austen's relentlessly clever dialogue and the skilled direction of Whit Stillman ("Metropolitan", "The Last Days Of Disco"). Well done all around despite the bland storyline.
The non-acting aspects of the movie were superb, and the acting overall was fine. My problems with the movie is the story itself and the director's lack of imagination with it.
The movie reflects that, as an early work of Jane Austen, it was not very sophisticated. The writing and directing did not improve on it. In effect, the movie was built on a series of tedious soliloquies by Lady Susan. The only suspense was provided by not knowing which plot elements were real or Lady Susan's fabricated illusions. After a while I realized that I was giving too much benefit to Lady Susan for fabricating illusions. She was clever but not that clever. Her cunning strategies--and the plot--mostly had a short-term horizon that never extended past the next scene.
I want to find the book and read it because I can't believe that it had some of the serious defects that the film showed. Most notably, what has been a friendly relation abruptly transformed to a discussion of marriage. I thought I had missed some bridging aspect of the dialogue but checked with my companions after the movie and they had been mystified too. I have a sense that a bridging scene was left on the editing room floor and no one noticed the abrupt change of pace.
The conclusion of the movie came too suddenly. Just was it seemed there would be another act, the house lights came on and the movie was over. I got the sense that Jane Austen ran out of ideas for the story, perhaps got bored with it, and so quickly tied up the loose ends.
To restate, the non-acting aspects of the movie were superb, and the acting itself was fine, per se. Perhaps there wasn't much material for a great movie in the original Jane Austen work, but the movie I saw could have been a lot better. I think the directing killed the potential for great acting and killed movie overall.
"Love and Friendship", Stillman's thoroughly delightful new film, is based on Austen's little known novella "Lady Susan" and it may be the best screen version of Austen thus far. It's deeply acerbic in a way Austen seldom is and it's also laugh-out-loud funny. Kate Beckinsale is Lady Susan, recently widowed, mother of a daughter of marriageable age and financially dependent on the kindness of strangers.
When the film opens she has arrived at the country seat of her sister-in-law, Catherine DeCourcy Vernon, in search of shelter and perhaps a new husband. Her reputation of being something of a man-eater has preceded her and yet she has no trouble in winning the heart of Catherine's younger brother, Reginald. What follows is a typically brilliant and very Austen-like tale of romantic intrigues and misunderstandings, broader perhaps than either "Pride and Prejudice" or "Sense and Sensibility" yet totally in keeping with Stillman's view of the world, past and present.
It would be invidious of me to choose one member of a wonderful ensemble over another for special praise since every performance is close to sublime. Still, it was gratifying to see Chloe Sevigny, in the best part she's had in some time, as Lady Susan's American friend and confidante, always living in fear in being shipped back to Connecticut by her older husband, played by Stephen Fry.
The closest Stillman comes to making his film cinematic is in his use of 'natural' lighting in several of the interior shots; otherwise this movie, like everything else Stillman has done, is totally dependent on his brilliant cast, the sharpness of his writing and the wit and compassion of his direction to make its mark. I doubt if I will see anything more entertaining this year.
The only positive aspects of this sloppily directed film were the costumes, locations and soundtrack - and OK performances by a couple of actors playing supporting characters, in particular James Fleet. Kate Beckinsale was unconvincing in this role, and Chloe Sevigny's curiously variable accent here was compounded by often mumbled diction. For much of the film, Xavier Samuel appeared to be offering little more than an admittedly pretty accurate imitation of the young Hugh Grant. The story line was disjointed and none of the characters ever really engaged the viewer, and at times the plot appeared to have gaps and non sequiturs - we each wondered if we'd dropped off for short periods, but this unfortunately was not the case.
In many ways this serves as an object lesson in why Jane Austen's meticulously constructed novels are such masterpieces of storytelling - each scene and dialogue fits perfectly like clockwork. We have not had the benefit of reading the novella in question,'Lady Susan', but this film leaves the impression of having been clumsily and carelessly assembled from a series of sketches. Excellent films can be very successfully adapted from little known short stories, for example with The Painted Veil (from Somerset Maugham). This is definitely NOT a good example, and we would advise readers, whether Austen fans or not, to look elsewhere.
After 20 minutes or so I was expecting some twist and turns that would impact the narrative of the film.
And I waited and waited but in vain... I felt bored...
Luckier people than me found some funny scenes once in a while. I didn't, so it became a pain to keep watching a film that didn't entertain me in one single frame.
The settings were nice and I don't need black teeth and dirty clothes to make a film more realistic. That aspect of Love and Friendship was good for me.
Lucky enough, this "film-disappointments" don't happen too often in my life and I would only recommend this film to someone very (very!) interested in English literature...
You are warned...
rather boring, not really entertaining, not funny at all ( as the film poster and some critics said), quite rushed ( if I may say) and you do not really get to understand the motives behind some of the characters moves. And that rococco /baroque music was not really fitting in my opinion.
As for the actors/acting... as I mentioned, the film is close to a theatre play, so, yes, the actors were kinda good for a piece of theatre but for the film... not so sure.
I would only recommend to watch this if you really really do not have anything else to watch. It is not entirely boring and uninteresting, but it is far from an entertaining piece.
My rating is four ( though it may deserves a star more).
I don't consider myself the avid Jane Austen reader or fan of the media adaptations. In fact, I usually don't care for them much at all, but with rave reviews and a heavier reliance on comedy than romance, I decided to give Love & Friendship a shot. For the most part, it's an enjoyable film. I don't know how closely the writers attempted to stay to Austen's work, but one of the main issues to the film is the overabundance of characters. We are introduced to almost every single character within the first few minutes via opening credits, and it became overwhelming as a viewer.
I caught on to the characters after a while, but trying to remember everyone's names was quite the challenge, especially when they all talk, dress, and look relatively the same. With that said, it's far and away Kate Beckinsale's film as she plays the infamous Lady Susan Vernon. The story mainly focuses on Vernon's attempt to give her daughter and herself a new match, after being recently widowed. If not for anything else, Love & Friendship is entertaining just to purely watch Lady Susan manipulate just about everyone she crosses. The beauty being that you don't truly know if she's being manipulative or sincere, which is why the abundance of characters actually works in the film's favor.
Distracting the audience with new characters scene to scene keeps our attention away from what Susan is up to, hence surprising us with the next reveal. I can't say I was all that invested in the story itself, as it sometimes falls under the clichéd-romantic genre, but watching Beckinsale and the others have fun with the source material proved to be worth a viewing.
I also appreciated the film's keen sense of humor at just the right moments. There are moments when the comedy could steer towards over-the-top, but veteran director Whit Stillman kept it from getting out of hand. In all, if you're into Jane Austen or period piece romantic dramas in general, Love & Friendship is probably for you. If not, perhaps the humor and performances can reel you in.
-A lot of characters can muddle the plot at times
So incredibly smart and very very funny. I love Jane Austen but this is so different to a lot of her more well known work; not necessarily better but definitely not worse. It feels as though some of the charismatic but conniving side characters she has in her novels have now become the main character. Lady Susan is definitely not a moral or always likable person but she is engaging and I did find myself rooting for her. Also it was beautifully filmed; the music created just the right atmosphere, the acting was superb. Overall I have only good things to say about this film, I adored it.
Love & Friendship is a movie that truly deserves its rotten tomatoes score. ---Yidioo
As far as we could tell the plot consisted of people either arriving or departing while in between slowly walking together conversing about one another. At first we kept hoping that the plot would build up into one of the social crises that Jane does so well. But an hour into the film we looked at each other in dismay when we mutually realized that "this was all there was." At least we now understand why we had never before heard about her having written "Love & Friendship." But in spite of our current disappointment we remain loyal fans of Jane Austen.
There is a reason why Kate Beckinsale doesn't get period roles, serious dramatic roles or even much comedy for that matter. Her acting in this movie was expressionless, monotonous and cold. It took her performance to show me how much better Keira Knightley and Kate Winslet were in Austen roles. She seemed to deliver too long sentences in a dull fashion. I couldn't tell what she was feeling or trying to convey.
The cast was a bit insipid and hard to distinguish from each other especially Sir James and de Courcy.
A few good points. The little introductions with the different characters is quite useful. The filming in Ireland was pretty even if the houses looked a bit less grand the ones in England.
A best friend during Victorian times was someone who could write copious letters without hand cramps.
Fortunately, the friends in this romantic-comedy meet face-to-face on occasion.
Unable to obtain her deceased husband's fortunes due to previous liaisons, Lady Susan (Kate Beckinsale) must find her daughter (Morfydd Clark) a prosperous suitor to keep their high society standings.
Her plan plays out at her brother's country estate – and through correspondence with her American friend (Chloë Sevigny) – where she hopes to pawn off her first-born on dimwitted Sir James (Tom Bennett), and claim her brother's friend (Xavier Samuel) for herself.
But her past indiscretions and an unplanned pregnancy threaten her plot.
One of very few period comedies around, this adaptation of communiqués composed by Jane Austen is quite cheeky, whilst remaining rather proper. More surprising is Beckinsale's performance as the coquettish countess.
Thankfully, nowadays, daughters can pick their own rich husband to marry.