Oh, for the era when barbs were delivered deftly, charmingly, the victim unaware of being vivisected until exsanguination affirms that the arrow, skillfully aimed, has hit its mark. (Films starring Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy).
Director Whit Stillman has masterfully interpreted Jane Austen’s novella “Lady Susan” and Kate Beckinsale splendidly gifts the lambent, conniving, shrewd widow with inimitable control over all “affairs” of the heart; Austen, wherever her spirit lies, must be applauding this remarkable, unforgettable, contemporary “Lady Susan”.
There are the appropriate twists, hilarious misadventures, orchestrated by Lady Susan; she woos, wins and shuns infatuated suitors: “Reginald”, (Xavier Samuel) gloriously handsome, appropriately idle, bewitched; “Lord Manwaring” (Lochlann O’Mearain) married, mysterious intrigue infuses their relationship; “Sir James Martin” (Tom Bennett owns his every scene, wonderfully comedic performance makes idiocy appealing) seeks the affections of Lady Susan’s daughter “Frederica” (Morfydd Clark), her charms are completely overshadowed by her mother’s.
Sensationally “Austen”: intimacy is implied with a glance (as opposed to the ubiquitous rutting audiences are forced to squirm through); bickering and bantering delivered with class; subterfuge, clandestine couplings all are brought to the fore with the eventual, anticipated, tremendously satisfying happy ending.
“Love & Friendship” is reminiscent of a time when movies were fun; viewers leave basking in the glow of a totally joyous filmic romp.