I sat and let the glory of words wash over me. It was a refreshing time at the movies for Love and Friendship. Based on a Jane Austen novella, this smart costume drama filled the screen with beauty and cunning (Kate Beckinsale as Lady Susan), witty dialogue, fantastic vocabulary, and a quick paced tale. It was glorious and nothing blew up. It’s eighteenth century England, and what is a woman without a man and money? Woe to the widow, Lady Susan, who’s on the move. She lands at a relative’s home and instantly charms her sister-in-law’s brother. Reginald De Courcy (Xavier Samuels) is younger, full of ideals, and enjoys talks and walks with Lady Susan. Meanwhile, other suitors circle despite her devious reputation. She’s difficult to resist.
Her daughter arrives – a pale, wisp of a girl, seemingly without a backbone. She’s been kicked out of school. Now what? Marry her off? Oh dear. In typical Jane Austen fashion, the author questions the role of women in the world, and points to strong will and character, personality and wit. It’s sad if one does not have a fortune, and ridiculous to be dependent. Some of the best dialogue occurs between Kate Beckinsale and Chloe Sevigny (the brash American married to an old fart – Stephen Fry). It’s laugh out loud humorous. Oh, there’s behind the scenes conniving, a scandal at Langford, and plenty of rousing indignation in a mere ninety minutes or so.
Great acting, great writing, and Kate Beckinsale is absolutely wonderful in this role. Love and Friendship is a gem of a little flick. If you like Jane Austen, this film is for you.