Based on the Jane Austen novel Lady Susan with the title of her teenage novella Love and Friendship. It is directed by Whit Stillman and is a complete and total delight. Without a doubt the best comedy I have seen in a long time.
This is not the stuffy Jane Austen adaptations you might be expecting. It is saucy, witty and kept me guessing. It stars Kate Beckinsale as Lady Susan Vernon a widow who goes to live with her in-laws because she is out of money and has a somewhat scandalous reputation.
Naturally she immediately schemes to find a way out of her situation and is willing to manipulate all her relatives including her daughter Frederica (Morfydd Clark) if needs be. This might make her sound unlikable but she’s so matter-of-fact about it that you are kind of rooting for her to pull it off.
She tries to garner the good favor of a young man named Reginald Decoursey (James Fleet) and the way she manipulates him is hilarious. All the while she convinces her daughter to obey her using the 10 Commandments in a very funny way. Her in-laws hate her but by the end of the movie they are practically begging for her to return (or her daughter which is one and the same).
Chloe Sevigny plays her American friend Alicia Johnson and they are hilarious together. Alicia is married to an old man Mr Johnson (Stephen Fry) who hates Lady Susan and forbids his wife to see her but she somehow always does. Tom Bennett is also very funny as Sir James Martin a stupid man Lady Susan wants her daughter to marry.
Whit Stillman has done a fantastic job with this film. All of the costumes are immaculate and other production is right up there with the great period pieces. But the main star in this film is the script by Jane Austen and Whit Stillman. I am now more convinced than ever that Jane Austen was a genius.
I laughed from beginning to end and I think you will too. Kate Beckinsale deserves Oscar consideration for this part and if it doesn’t get nominated for adapted screenplay I will picket the academy! Go see it! I know you’ll love it too.
Overall Grade- A+ One of the best of the year for sure.