Wednesday 8 June 2016

Film: 'Love and Friendship'

I'd thought there might be a good chance that I'd be singing the praises of this - and that would have made a refreshing and welcome change. Alas, it was not to be; main reason being that I just couldn't follow what on earth was going on!

Set in London and the Home Counties it's a romantic comedy of the Regency period based on the novella 'Lady Susan' by Jane Austen. Although I've read each of Austen's full length novels several times, this particular work has passed me by. It would have helped enormously if I'd been familiar with it - though clearly it hadn't mattered for other members of the audience who lapped up this film with appropriate responses.

Starring Kate Beckinsdale and Chloe Sevigny (the latter being seen far too rarely on the cinema screen, though I see that she's done considerable TV work) it involves a widow who's after a desirable second husband - while there are other pairings, some agreeable, others not quite so, among her friends and relations, along with the complication of a daughter who's been expelled from school. I can't go into more detail because I just didn't get it. I don't know whether it's because I didn't pay sufficient attention to the exposition scenes, or missed some of the early essential dialogue, but whatever the cause it was very frustrating, leaving much of the film a curious mystery.
The principal male love interest comes from one Xavier Samuel, an Australian actor whose name is new to me. Among the several minor characters are Jemma Redgrave, James Fleet and Stephen Fry.
Female fashion of the time is lavish and delightful to look at. Location settings are likewise convincing. The background score is mainly edited arrangements of classical pieces, sometimes a little distracting though not to any great degree.

Director (and writer, using some of Austen's own elevated dialogue) is Wit Stillman, whose 'Metropolitan' and 'Barcelona' of the 1990s I still recall with affection.

I'm still feeling strangely unsatisfied in having been unable to appreciate this film to the fullest, especially as some of the reviews I've seen have been very positive indeed. However, I can only tell of my own experience which, with great regret, cannot endow it with a rating higher than...............5.5.


  1. Ray,
    Interesting review. I like all Jane Austen movies. I'll check this one out in spite of your lukewarm review.

    1. Nearly all the reviews I've seen are far more positive about it than I am, Ron, so it'll probably be worth your while to give this a go. I've a sense that it was just not my day when I went to see it and might be more favourably disposed were I to watch it gain.