Hello and welcome to the movie blog of author John DeFrank - FilmZ and Guy Sobriquet Malone - Researcher

Love and Friendship

For those of you looking for a date night movie, this one is a gem.   Writer-Director Whit Stillman adapted the Jane Austen novella, Lady Susan and stars Kate Beckinsale, in the role of her career, with support from several wonderful British actors and Chloe Sevigny as her American-born/British-wed best friend Lady Alicia Johnson. This romantic comedy has less heart-wrenching romance than typical Austen fare, and that which it has bears a wicked venom; at the same time, it has more comedy, punctuated by caustic one-liners and lunatic set pieces.  Think of it as Evelyn Waugh's satire meets Monty Python's surreal humor.

Lady Susan Vernon (Beckinsale), escaping scandalous rumors, visits the bucolic estate of her  in-laws, the naive Charles Vernon (Justin Edwards) and his suspicious wife, Catherine DeCourcy Vernon (Emma Greenwell).  There, the charismatic seductress sets her sights on Emma's brother, the callow Reginald DeCourcy (Xavier Samuel), despite the fears of his sister,  The DeCourcys' parents see through the icy vamp, as does Alicia's husband, Mr. Johnson, who doesn't have the decency to die and has threatened to return his wife to her Connecticut origins if she continues her friendship with Lady Susan.  To her chagrin, Lady Susan's daughter, Frederica (Morfydd Clark) shows up, followed by her unwanted suitor, Sir James Martin (Tom Bennett), a blithering idiot who upsets matters as much with his insane soliloquies as Lady Susan does with her charms.

The brief (92 minute) runtime races by on the wings of fascinating dialogue you'd better listen to closely lest you miss lines like Lady Susan's blithe observation, "Facts are horrid things" or Martin's monologue about which two of the Twelve Commandments would best be shed or his introduction to peas as a dinner item.  While any competent actress could fill Sevigny's shoes, Kate Beckinsale sells Lady Susan as an upper crust femme fatale who controls the people and events around her. Tom Bennet's Sir James Martin as a daffy suitor brings hilarious theater of the absurd. And, in Morfydd Clark, we might be seeing the birth of the next Saoirse Ronan.  Whit Stillman's script and direction might lead us into a work that some may find shallow, but these are, indeed. shallow people, so: mission accomplished.

8 out of 10


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