Love & Friendship France, Ireland, Netherlands 2016 – 92min.
Love & Friendship
England, late eighteenth century. Beautiful, manipulative, narcissistic, dangerous: Lady Susan Vernon has a bad reputation in English society. Recently widowed, she leaves the Manwaring home after having wreaked havoc, to live with her brother Charles, to the great displeasure of his wife Catherine. Supported in her intrigues by her friend Alicia, an American in exile, Lady Susan attempts to manipulate two wealthy suitors to achieve her ends.
Almost 20 years after The Last Days of Disco, Kate Beckinsale is reunited with Chloe Sevigny and director Whit Stillman: a excellent thing for an actress lately too associated with overblown, wannabe blockbusters (Pearl Harbor, Underworld, Total Recall), who is the best thing in Love & Friendship. Light, funny, deeply hateful but totally fun, she gives this Jane Austen adaptation a wonderfully comic energy, stealing the show from everyone else whenever she’s onscreen. But beyond Beckinsale’s performance, the movie is too cautious and simplistic, with a superficial plot that lacks the necessary cynicism. Slapstick appearances by Tom Bennett as a dumb aristocrat are also good, but not enough to measure up to the delightfully bad Lady Susan.