'Love & Friendship' is an adaptation of Jane Austen's novella Lady Susan in which a beautiful young widow Lady Susan Vernon (Kate Beckinsale) visits her in-laws’ estate while waiting for social chatter about her personal indiscretions to pass. While there, the intelligent, flirtatious, and amusingly egotistical Lady Vernon decides to secure a husband for herself and her rather reluctant daughter, Frederica. Enlisting the assistance of her old friend Alicia (Chloe Sevigny), Lady Vernon attracts the simultaneous attention of the young, handsome Reginald DeCourcy, the rich and silly Sir James Martin and the divinely handsome, but married, Lord Manwaring, complicating matters severely.
What do you get when you mix Jane Austen and filmmaker Whit Stillman together? A darkly funny period piece that is light hearted, quick witted, and very enjoyable that is titled 'Love & Friendship', which is based off of the little known novella from Austen called 'Lady Susan'. Most people would know Austen for her more romantic and dramatic work with 'Pride and Prejudice' and 'Sense and Sensibility', but this little novel was in fact fairly funny. Then you add director Whit Stillman, who gave us 'Metropolitan' and 'The Last Days of Disco' and you get this hilarious film 'Love & Friendship'.
Stillman wrote the screenplay here, and perfectly captured the inner workings of Lady Susan (Kate Beckinsale) in both of her personalities in the late 1700s while still maintaining a light hearted approach to the story. If you're unfamiliar with the story, 'Love & Friendship' or 'Lady Susan' follows a woman named Lady Susan who has a reputation in flirting her way to the top of the food chain.
Her goal in life is to marry rich and for her daughter to marry a wealthy man. Lady Susan schemes her way into many suitor's hearts, entrancing them to fall in love with her, whether they are married or not. Her daughter heads off to a fine boarding school at one point, but is kicked out, where they end up at her brother-in-law's house. The men fall easily for Lady Susan, which pits most women against this fair lady and her devious ways of seducing men. The good natured, yet dumbfounded and hilarious man in the middle of all this is Sir James Martin (Tom Bennett) who isn't the sharpest tool in the box.
It would be easy to make this story into a sadistic and nasty story of a woman who doesn't know love at all and uses all those around her to get her way, which is just to marry rich so she can continue a life of prosperity, which she didn't earn. That's not the case here though with Austen and Stillman's vision. Everything is light on the cheek, funny, and cleverly written. Even though you don't want to like Lady Susan, you can't help fall for her charm and wit like the other men in the film do, which is a huge compliment to Kate Beckinsale. We are used to seeing her brood as she stab, swing, chops at multiple vampires and werewolves, but here, she is very likable and undeniably funny.
The film moves at a fast pace with jokes and funny moments at every corner, with everything playing out as it should in this type of film. If there was ever a perfect adaptation of a Jane Austen story, then this is it.
The Blu-Ray: Disc Stats
'Love & Friendship' comes with a 25GB Blu-ray Disc from Sony Pictures and is Region A Locked. There are no inserts of any kind here, neither a digital download code. The disc is housed in a hard, blue plastic case. A couple of trailers play before the main menu.
'Love & Friendship' comes with a great 1080p HD transfer presented in 1.85:1 aspect ratio. This picture looks marvelous in every aspect. The detail is rich, vivid, and sharp throughout, boasting every tiny detail on screen, including the timely wardrobe and makeup effects. Individual hairs can be seen on the actor's faces as well as the big hairdos of the time. The feathers and intimate stitching on all the hats and costumes look amazing as well. The background objects and amazing set pieces also reveal great detail in all the imperfections of the stone and brick castles throughout.
Colors look incredible and pop right off screen. Each color is well saturated with great warm colors in the wooded rooms and lush greens in the exterior shots. The outfits look amazing here as well when color is concerned. Black levels are deep and inky for the most part, however there is some crush evident throughout. Skin tones are natural and smooth as well. There are no issues with banding or aliasing, but there was some minor video noise. Despite those small issues, this is an excellent video presentation.
This release comes with a great lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix that is mostly front heavy. The surrounds to pick up some great moments when horse gallop along with their wooden wagons and carriages. The surrounds pick up the nature noises as well as other people chattering in the background. The score always adds to the tone of the film with an excellent sounding symphony. The bass kicks in during the heavier score moments without crossing into rocky territory. Dialogue is crystal clear and easy to follow. There were no pops, cracks, hiss, or high shrills here. For a light hearted comedy, this audio presentation is great.
Behind the Scenes: 'Love & Friendship' (HD, 10 Mins.) - Cast and crew interviews discuss Stillman's direction, the characters, the story, Jane Austen's novella, and the comedy of it all.
What do you get when you mix Jane Austen and filmmaker Whit Stillman together? A darkly funny period piece that is light hearted, quick witted, and very enjoyable. 'Love & Friendship' is recommended.