Love and Friendship is far less funny than it should be. Most of its witty moments appeared in the trailer, and therefore lack full impact when actually seen in context.
The runtime passes slowly in countless monotonous wooden exchanges, scored with music that is prototypical period drama, yet the costumes look authentically handmade.
Mannered character introductions repeat a device Stillman used in Damsels in Distress, though the most unsympathetic characters prove he is skilled at satirical Austinian caricature, also enabling the hilarious standout performance from Tom Bennett. Sevigny’s Alicia, however, is no more than a sounding board for Lady Susan.
For many this should be fresh and surprising, but Stillman’s adaptation of Austen’s fragmentary novella “Lady Susan” is entirely on one note, adding nothing fans of either writer haven’t seen before.
CAST: Kate Beckinsale, Morfydd Clark, Tom Bennett, Jenn Murray, Chloë Sevigny
DIRECTOR: Whit Stillman
WRITERS: Jane Austen (based on her novella “Lady Susan”), Whit Stillman
SYNOPSIS: Set in the 1790s, Love and Friendship centres on beautiful widow Lady Susan Vernon, who has come to the estate of her in-laws to wait out colourful rumours about her dalliances circulating through polite society. While there, she decides to secure a husband for herself and her rather reluctant debutante daughter, Frederica.