Love & Friendship Review - Beautifully Done, An Unconventional, Winning, Comedy

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Love & Friendship, from Amazon Studios and Roadside Attractions, present a beautifully crafted charmingly manipulative, visually creative experience, based on Jane Austen’s comedic novella, Lady Susan, depicting the manner in which society looks upon women of determination and freedom.

 Directed and written by Whit Stillman, Love & Friendship stars Kate Beckinsale, Chloe Sevigny, Stephen Fry, Jemma Redgrave, Tom Bennett, Xavier Samuel, Morfydd Clark, Emma Greenwell, Justin Edwards, Jenn Murray.

Love & Friendship opens with the introduction of Lady Susan Vernon, played by Kate Beckinsale, who is in a bit of a predicament she and her daughter, Frederica Susanna Vernon, played by Morfydd Clark, have been staying on at the home of Lord and Lady Manwaring played by Locklann O’Mearain and Jenn Murray and have been asked to leave.

As Lady Susan is single, with a daughter of marrying age, and she herself is quite the beauty, known as an accomplished flirt, she is always looking for a husband and at times possibly in the homes and hearths of others. in time when women’s identities were an extension of their husbands.

In time when women’s identities were an extension of their husbands Lady Susan, a widow, is now left to her wherewithal which includes squelching rumors, stopping reputation damage, turning the insinuations around all the while marinating a wickedly charming manipulation of nearly everyone she meets.

In reality she is essentially picking through her refuse pile of eligible men, as Lady Susan is somewhat active for the age of sense and sensibility. She has decided her daughter should marry Sir James Martin, played by Tom Bennett, who is impressively wealthy, which is as widely known as his apparent unusual sense of humor.

With the world erupting around her as her recent dalliances became a bit public and her attempts to persuade her daughter that marriage is best for both of them, Frederica runs off to live with her sister-in-law Catherine Vernon, played by Emma Greenwall, and brother-in-law, Charles Vernon, played by Justin Edwards.

Throughout all this Lady Susan seeks the solace of her only friend, Mrs. Alicia Johnson, played by Chloe Sevigny, an American, who is married to the much older, Mr. Johnson, played by Stephen Fry who forbids eventually forbids her to ever see Lady Susan again as he is concerned her exploits will infect or poison both her and his business dealings.

As the family drama is exploding, the obvious manipulations of Lady Susan, the words of venom spoken by a creature of breathtaking beauty is how she manages to move so freely without the land mines ever causing any real or substantive damage.

Soon after she tries to marry her daughter off, to no avail, finances and friendships are wearing thin, she decides she has to make the moves on someone soon as necessity calls for swift action. So a most eligible bachelor, right under her nose, the charming and handsome and the first and most important requisite in marriage, a man of means, the Mr. Reginald DeCourcy, played by Xavier Samuel who is in a magical spell primarily from her reputation, charm and beauty. 

For Reginald time has stopped, never more fairer were the days then those spent in the presence of Lady Susan. Her voice the sound of birds, her gaze transforming and melting his resolve. As she is more experienced, when her married lover arrives she feels confident she can balance the two with neither the wiser.

As Lady Susan is single-minded and in dogged pursuit of a husband, keeping her options open even if it means causing pain and injury to others is her first priority. Her situation is paramount and if the future opens, and others are hurt they’ll get over it.

Soon Reginald’s family moves into separate them and Lady Susan is working the eligible bachelor of means pool once again.

Love & Friendship unites the worlds of family, friendships, love, romance and seduction set delivered with over the top comedy.

Love & Friendship beautifully crafted, wickedly charming, and visually appealing adaptation of the Jane Austen novella Lady Susan that remained unpublished until her nephew James Edward Austen-Leigh had it published in 1871.

Having the opportunity to participate in the media day, Whit Stillman, the director, explained the adaptation of Lady Susan was a “labor of love.” The project which began “over a decade ago” was something he was interested in doing not something he was obliged to do.

After years of perfecting he finally brought Lady Susan to the screen. His adaptation is perfection. The dialogue full of rapier wit, just enough biting sarcasm to captivate, and delivered with smooth charm.

The making of period pieces is more than the dialogue, the costumes, the nuances of the time, the importance of marriage, of an identity which was nearly always found in the reputation of the husband.

Love & Friendship is able to present those important societal rules and views and create a brilliant, charming, delightful film that crosses the art house boundary effortlessly.

The comedic introductions set a tone for the almost over the top characterizations. Love & Friendship is an unconventional comedy. The performances are charismatic and enchanting. Kate Beckinsale is magnetic. Chloe Sevigny exceptional.

Whit Stillman has created a timeless classic guaranteed to capture the attention of young and old, those familiar with the literary works of Jane Austen and a laugh out loud introduction for those newcomers.

Love & Friendship opens May 13, 2016 in theaters everywhere. Check local listings.

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