Film Review: Love and Friendship

Not a huge Austen fan (that says more about me than her, perhaps?) but there were quite a few laugh-out-loud moments in this film, based on a novella that wasn’t published until 50 years after she’d snuffed it  (there IS a novella of hers called Love and Friendship, but the film is based on another – Lady Susan. Do keep up).

Whit Stillman , him of Metropolitan, Last Days of Disco etc directs with his usual aplomb and love of epigrams and too moral people colliding with those who either don’t get it or are actually monsters.  Kate Beckinsdale is great as Lady Susan, a (very) merry widow who trails destruction and seduction as she seeks suitable (stupid is fine, so long as they’re rich) suitors for herself and her daughter.  Chloe Sevigny is her equally amoral friend.  These two make Valmont look like a hand-wringing bleeding heart.  The supporting cast is just as good, and the guy playing the crushingly stupid (think Tony Abbott meets Donald Trump, only funny) almost steals the film.

The showing we saw, at the Mercury Cinema, had a useful context-setting pre-film speech by Kerryn Goldsworthy, and she led a good discussion afterwards. I mentioned the possibility of a Moll Flanders connection, but wish I’d suggested the possibility of a Dangerous Liaisons thing, given it came out ten years earlier and is a series of letters about seduction, money and manipulation….

If you like Austen, you may like a Reginald Hill short story in her style (homage/pastiche), a 20 years later ‘where are they now’ on Emma.

Other stuff I should  read –

New Yorker review

 Jane Austen and Empire – Edward Said

Nicholas Gruen “Why Adam Smith was to markets what Jane Austen is to marriage” in essay in best Australian Essays 2006.

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