Principal Cast: Kate Beckinsale, Chloë Sevigny, Xavier Samuel
Writer-director Whit Stillman departs from the milieu of the contemporary New York upper crust that he so memorably explored in such films as Damsels in Distress, The Last Days of Disco and Metropolitan for this sharp-tongued and riotously funny examination of 18th-century polite society. Adapting Jane Austen’s long-unpublished epistolary novella Lady Susan, Stillman creates a period piece whose spirit is unmistakably modern.
Love & Friendship revolves around the beautiful and cunning Lady Susan Vernon (Kate Beckinsale, The Aviator, The Last Days of Disco), a recent widow who engineers all manner of wonderfully devious plots to bend the world to her will and land herself a wealthy new husband. Taking up residence at Churchill, her in-laws’ estate, she sets her sights on the dashing Reginald De Courcy (Xavier Samuel, Fury, nonymous), and soon has him wrapped around her little finger. However, her plans are derailed when her beautiful daughter Frederica (Morfydd Clark, Madame Bovary) turns up at Churchill after being dismissed from boarding school. Fearing that Frederica will turn Reginald’s head, Lady Susan sets out to obtain her daughter a suitor of her own. Enter Sir James Martin (Tom Bennett), a well-meaning but witless older man who is utterly confounded by the fact that there is neither a church nor a hill at Churchill.
Brilliantly played by Beckinsale, Lady Susan possesses a confidence, audacity, and unapologetic dishonesty (“Facts are horrid things,” she laments after being caught in a lie) that paradoxically endow her with a winning charm, and make her an Austen heroine to rival Elizabeth Bennett and Emma Woodhouse. If you’re looking for a smart, fun, and scruple-free romp, Love & Friendship is definitely your cup of tea.
- Directed by Whit Stillman
- Produced by Whit Stillman, Katie Holly, Lauranne Bourrachot
- Screenplay by Whit Stillman
- Based on Lady Susan by Jane Austen
- Starring Kate Beckinsale, Xavier Samuel, Emma Greenwell, Morfydd Clark, Jemma Redgrave, Tom Bennett, James Fleet, Justin Edwards, Jenn Murray, Stephen Fry, Chloë Sevigny
- Music by Mark Suozzo
- Cinematography: Richard Van Oosterhout
- Edited by Sophie Corra
- Release date: January 23, 2016 (Sundance), May 13, 2016 (United States)
- Running time: 93 minutes
- Country: Ireland, France, Netherlands