“Love and Friendship” Is Hilarious Fun

The newest Jane Austen adaptation, Love and Friendship (based on Austen’s novella Lady Susan) is not Regency; it’s Georgian. And it’s not gently satirical; it has a villainess of “diabolical genius.” But the battlefields are still all family and social matters, and the ending is a happy one.

Lady Susan Vernon is a creature of charm, only because it serves her self-interest. She does have feelings, but mostly for herself. She always gets her own way… and that’s what makes her fascinating and terrifying to watch. Kate Beckinsale does a wonderful job with this part.

The rest of the cast is given some wonderful characters to play, as well as really good lines. They run with it. It’s the kind of movie where Stephen Fry plays a relatively minor role, and still has plenty to do.

The movie is set in England but was filmed on location in Ireland, using all sorts of gorgeous great houses and the Georgian-era neighborhoods of Dublin. The sets are great, and so are the costumes. (For history fans, it’s a lot of fun watching Lady Susan go from her mourning garb to half-blacks to colors again. The timing is perfect.)

It’s a wonderful example of how making everything period and believable doesn’t mean making everything deadly dull.

Go see it in the theater, if you can. It is worth it.

An interview with the director.

Austen’s epistolary novella, Lady Susan.

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