An adaptation of Jane Austen’s Lady Susan, a posthumously published early epistolary novella, Love & Friendship sees Whit Stillman transpose his urbane, ironic brand of humour to 18th-century England with delightful results. A director of literary sensibility, Stillman incorporates playful devices of his own into Austen’s elaborate comedy of manners, such as introducing his dramatis personae with wryly amusing character descriptions.
The recently widowed Lady Susan Vernon (Kate Beckinsale), a scheming, self-interested manipulator, comes to stay with her in-laws, Catherine and Charles Vernon, at their country estate, primarily for the purposes of securing her financial future through a match with Catherine’s eligible younger brother Reginald de Courcy (Xavier Samuel), a plan which comes unstuck with the surprise arrival of her daughter Frederica (Morfydd Clark), a potential romantic distraction for Reginald. Lady Susan must use all her wiles to thwart their possible union.
Notes by David O’Mahony