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DVD/Blu-ray: Love & Friendship | reviews, news & interviews

DVD/Blu-ray: Love & Friendship

DVD/Blu-ray: Love & Friendship

Kate Beckinsale is effortlessly brilliant in Whit Stillman's witty take on epistolary Austen

Austen or words to that effect: Kate Beckinsale and Tom Bennett in 'Love & Friendship'

“For a husband to stray he is merely responding to his biology. But for a woman to behave in a similar way is ridiculous, unimaginable. Just the idea is funny.” This unwitting strapline issues from the boobyish Sir James Martin towards the end of Love & Friendship, Whit Stillman’s delightful riff on Jane Austen which, in the person of Lady Susan Vernon, proves quite the opposite is true.

Lady Susan is played by Kate Beckinsale with grace, wit and much unmelted butter in her mouth. She was Emma Woodhouse once, Austen’s better-known minx, before shoving off to Hollywood barely ever to return. She is the film’s main calling card, firing off zingers and humdingers with precision-tooled timing that make you yearn for the career that might have been. (Upon being discovered in the company of another woman’s husband: “Facts are horrid things.”)

But there’s plenty more to savour. The other stars are Stephen Fry and Chloe Sevigny, cast into a marriage that feels delightfully implausible on every level, but other actors acquit themselves beautifully: Morfydd Clark (whose last visit to Austen involved zombies), holds her own as Lady Susan’s daughter Frederica, while Tom Bennett is dazzlingly funny as Sir James. Stillman's scripts enjoys a frolicsome two-step with the world of Regency manners. As Jemma Redgrave says on the brief extras, the atmosphere of romantic skulduggery feels like Fielding. There are witty nods to other literary sources. “There is a saying,” says one of the many poorly read characters: “the heart has its strangeness, or words to that effect.” This is Austen or words to that effect, affording many moments of sheer bliss. The soundtrack, featuring hits from Handel to Mozart, is a pleasant adornment.

Beckinsale fires off zingers and humdingers with precision-tooled timing that make you yearn for the career that might have been

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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