‘Love & Friendship’ Review: A Jane Austen Comedy

Love and Friendship

When Love & Friendship first came across my radar, I was beyond excited. I’ve always been a massive fan of Jane Austen, and I actually wasn’t familiar with Lady Susan, Austen’s book on which this film is based. New Austen material? Well, it may not be new, but it was new to me, and I was thrilled.

Lady Susan is a comedy, something that is also a bit outside of Austen’s traditional wheelhouse – even though there are countless comedic moments in some of my personal favorites – Emma (obviously), Pride & Prejudice, and Sense & Sensibility. Love & Friendship doesn’t quite feel like a classic tale due to that shift of tone, but it still has moments of charm and wit that any fan can appreciate. That being said, I didn’t love it, but I also didn’t hate it – I was just lukewarm on the film. I should also note that I’ve not read Lady Susan, so I’m not entirely sure if my problems with this story lie with the movie or the original source material.

Love and Friendship Official Description

Beautiful young widow Lady Susan Vernon visits to the estate of her in-laws to wait out the colorful rumors about her dalliances circulating through polite society. Whilst ensconced there, she decides to secure a husband for herself and a future for her eligible but reluctant daughter, Frederica. In doing so she attracts the simultaneous attentions of the young, handsome Reginald DeCourcy, the rich and silly Sir James Martin and the divinely handsome, but married, Lord Manwaring, complicating matters severely.

Kate Beckinsale, who plays Lady Susan (the lead), is just an odd character – incredibly manipulative and dare I almost say evil. The appeal of so many of Austen’s leading women is how many females can relate to them and how they wish that they could live inside this world with their own Mr. Knightley or Mr. Darcy. The leading fellow here, Reginald DeCourcy (played by Xavier Samuel), while certainly attractive, just doesn’t have the same charm as other Austen men. He seems easily distracted and not terribly bright. The full cast, including Chloë Sevigny, Emma Greenwell, Morfydd Clark, and Stephen Fry (one of my all time favorites) all deliver fine performances, however aside from Clark’s character (Frederica Vernon – Lady Susan’s daughter), none of the characters are really that memorable.

Overall, it’s a fast-paced film, and it is certainly a must-see for any Austen fan… because let’s face it – if you’re a fan you have to see all the film adaptations of anything related to any of her books. However, I’d recommend following Love & Friendship up with a screening of Emma or Pride and Prejudice. It will get you back on track with love for Jane Austen.

Love and Friendship Trailer

To hear more about what I thought of Love & Friendship be sure to check out this week’s episode of the ATLas Podcast!

Love and Friendship Review

Grade: C+

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