Love and Friendship.
Adapted from Lady Susan, a novella by Jane Austen. Director: Whit Stillman
Love and Friendship is based on a novella written by a 19-year-old Jane Austen.
Financial security is definitely the theme that dominates Love and Friendship, for in Austen’s England if a single man in possession of a good fortune (is) in want of a wife than even more undoubtedly, a woman of no means is on a quest to secure herself a wealthy husband.
‘Lady Susan’, our anti-heroine, is a wonderful Austen creation. She is a cunning minx whose efforts to break through the confines of her gender and economic circumstances make her a genius at manipulation, an Oscar-deserving actress and a coquette of notoriety. Unfortunately, and rather too frequently, she is also a completely nasty and self-centred piece of work … When Lady Susan has affairs, it is the wife who is at fault for marrying an attractive man and when caught almost red-handed by her fiancée cheating with a long-time lover, she is able make him feel like a suspicious brute!
Suffice to say, Lady Susan is not a great role-model in every aspect of her behaviour but you kind of ‘get’ that Austen is as bedazzled as her readers ‒ and director Stillman in this cinema interpretation ‒ by the sheer audacity of said lady's ability to overcome the injustices of the rigid social system in which she lived.
I’m not going to give away the storyline but I will give an accolade to Kate Beckinsale, who as Lady Susan is far and away the most captivating element of the film and perfect in this role.
Go see Love and Friendship if you’d like to see a beautifully presented, light-weight period chick flick with a feisty heroine of great literary pedigree and few morals!