Kate BEckinsale takes on the role of Temptress in "Love and Friendship"
I happily admit it. I'm a big Jane Austen fan. When the adaptation of her novella, "Lady Susan," was released on the big screen as "Love and Friendship," I was excited. This comedy of manners starring Kate Beckinsale and written and directed by Whit Stillman, does not disappoint. The dialogue is witty and wry and almost entirely Austen's, who wrote the book when she was only 19. There'a s lot of scandal beneath the layers of Georgian costumes and so-called "good breeding," but both Stillman and Beckinsale deliver it all with grace and a good laugh. The widowed Lady Susan is trying to force her mildy rebellious daughter into a marriage with a bumbling, but wealthy man, played with slap-stick panache by British actor Tom Bennett. Lady Susan, who is quite young, is also seeking a new husband for herself.
As a poor widow, Lady Susan must rely on the kindness of stranger - in this case, her estranged brother and sister-in-law. While taking advantage of their generosity, she meets her sister-in-law's younger brother, Reginald, played by Xavier Samuel, and sets her cap for him, much to the dismay of the rest of his family. In the meantime, she's carrying on an affair with a married man and confiding her secrets to an equally scheming friend played by American Chloe Sevigny. It took a little twisting of the story to explains Sevigny's American accent in the story, but it's a minor point. Beckinsale is fantastic as a woman doing a juggling act to survive and escape poverty on her own terms. The sets are gorgeous and so are the costumes. "Love and Friendship" is a rich treat.