Love & Friendship Blu-ray review
When a wife loses a spouse, they lose a soul mate and a lover and a friend. In some cases, she loses her wealth. How humiliating! Lady Susan Vernon (Kate Beckinsale, far removed from Selene) is a recently widowed woman who is desperate want of a man with a fortune.
After moving in with her brother-in-law (Justin Edwards) and his wife (Emma Greenwell), Susan sets her plan in motion, with a particular gaze towards Reginald DeCourcy (Xavier Samuel, who played the Monster in 2015’s FRANKENSTEIN), who has just what she’s looking for. Susan is a beautiful woman and so Reginald is quick to fall for her. All is going as it should until Susan’s daughter, Frederica (Welsh actress Morfydd Clark), appears after having run away from school. It’s not exactly a delightful reunion and so Susan has to include Frederica in her plot by finding her a husband as well.
Who marries who is all part of the fun here, provided you can keep up with all of the characters. In addition to the aforementioned, there is suitor Sir James Martin (Tom Bennett, the series PHONESHOP), American friend Alice (Chloë Sevigny, Danny Perez’s ANTIBIRTH) and her well-off husband (Stephen Fry, always a joy). There are many, many more, but there is a word count limit to this review. The movie is populated by far too many characters, who are apparently such a difficulty to keep in order that Stillman employs a subtitle every time one appears for the first time. (Examples: “Lord Manwaring – a divinely attractive man” and “Sir James Martin – Wealthy young suitor of Frederica Vernon & Maria Manwaring; A bit of a “Rattle.”)
LOVE & FRIENDSHIP is based on Jane Austen’s novella “Lady Susan,” which doesn’t traditionally get the attention (and so the miniseries or costume drama treatment) of the likes of, say, “Pride and Prejudice.” (The title comes from a different Austen work, curiously spelled “Love & Freindship.”) This will either scare some off or have them waiting in line. Those who are consistently bored or turned off by the adaptations may find this one to be a pleasant surprise. It’s not quite a Jane Austen movie for non-Jane Austen fans, but it circles the neighborhood, and director Whit Stillman (his first feature since 2011’s DAMSELS IN DISTRESS; before that was 1998’s THE LAST DAYS OF DISCO) should be commended for that. The cast, too, is a winning one. Of particular note is Tom Bennett, who steals each scene he’s in, whether it’s deciphering the word “Churchill,” which is neither a church nor a hill, or dining on “tiny green balls,” better known as peas—as Susan puts it to her daughter: “He has come to give you the one thing he has to offer: his income.”)
While there is a lot of Him falling in love with Her and This One bouncing over to That One and Her yearning for Whoever, that’s to be expected. But Stillman, with ease, ties all of together, creating a humorous show that proves to be smart and enjoyable.
Video: 1.85:1 in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. This is a wonderful transfer that boasts fine details, natural colors and an overall healthy image, all of which showcase the sets, costumes and cinematography.
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. Subtitles in English and Spanish. Dialogue is clear and the score comes through nicely.
Behind the Scenes: LOVE & FRIENDSHIP (9:40): This featurette uses interviews, on-set footage and clips to look at the characters, cast, style and more of the movie.