Love & Friendship: A Review

      After much anticipation, I watched Love & Friendship, and I must say that I was pleasantly surprised.  I hardly knew what to expect going into it, but after it ended I was wiping away tears of laughter!  Yes, the movie is hysterical.  I can't think of a period drama, no matter how witty, that has ever made me laugh as hard as Love & Friendship.

        When I finished reading all of Jane Austen's novels (some more than just once), I began reading her shorter works.  I started Lady Susan, but, what with school and other books also on my plate, it has been rather neglected.  However, the movie was true to what I have read so far.
(And I do intend to finish it, and read the actual "Love and Friendship" novella.)

        Love & Friendship, directed by Whit Stillman, follows the manipulative, flirtatious Lady Susan Vernon (Kate Beckinsale) as she goes from place to place casting her spell over everyone and stirring up trouble.  She leaves Langford after successfully ruining a marriage, destroying another budding relationship, and angrily sending her daughter away to school seemingly as a punishment for not complying with her plans.  Susan decides to go now to visit her obliging brother-in-law at Churchill, where her reputation is well-known.  While there, she uses her charm and sparkling wit to try to win the heart of Reginald De Courcy (Xavier Samuel).  In the meantime, she must find away to marry her daughter, Frederica (Morfydd Clark), off to Sir James Martin (Tom Bennett).

        As you may well imagine, Lady Susan's affairs do not always go according to plan, and the result is a riot! 

        In addition to a sharp script and excellent acting, the film features delightful English settings.  I wanted to jump into every scene, drink tea with Lady Catherine, read by the fireplace, even have ink spilt on my gown!  Everywhere from Churchill to London was charmingly depicted.  Oh my, and the costumes!  I envied Lady Susan her impressive wardrobe.  For a woman who has come down in her fortunes, she certainly dresses well.  Yes, the movie is candy for the eyes in every shot. 

        Stillman does a wonderful job with the characters, really drawing them out till you know them as well as your best friends.  Susan particularly is sharp and witty, and yet, as Lady Catherine, a character whom I really liked, says, "That woman's a fiend."  The movie does portray the characters so well as to really grab hold of your emotions throughout the hour and a half. (Was it really that long?)  You feel compassion for Frederica, you want to grab Reginald and shake him by the shoulders a few (dozen) times, and you ultimately feel infuriated by Lady Susan.  Oh, yes, and let's not forget the comic relief, for there must be at least one in every Jane Austen.  This film's model is called Sir James Martin.  And how funny is he, though not in the same way as Lady Susan.  I laughed until tears came whenever Sir James lit up the screen with his jolly presence! 

        The ending was quite satisfying indeed.  Unlike with other Jane Austen's, this story was not overly romantic.  It had it's little (and I really mean little as in few and far between) moments that made me smile with starry eyes, but not as much as I could have wished.  Perhaps that's for the better in this case. 

                In any case, I thoroughly enjoyed this movie that is definitely one worth watching again and again.  If you desire a good mix of period drama and side-splitting humor with a dash of wit and charm and a tsp. of romance, or if you generally love Jane Austen, then Love & Friendship is a must-see.  Despite its mixed reviews, I'd give it 4/5 stars.

If you've seen the movie, please leave me a comment telling me what you thought of it.  What did you, or didn't you, like about it?  I'd love to know! :)

And, if you liked my first movie review, leave me a suggestion for other reviews you'd like to see.


  1. I simply cannot wait to see this enchanting Jane Austen film! {{smiles}} I have been waiting to see it for about a year now...but it would seem it has not yet been released in South Africa...{{Sniffs}} and won't be in cinemas:( Thank you for your lovely review, Elanor!
    Thank you for visiting my blog...what a delight to have you!


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