Review - Matt Mungle
*In select theaters including the Angelika Plano May 20th*
Synopsis: Beautiful young widow Lady Susan Vernon visits to the estate of her in-laws to wait out the colourful rumours about her dalliances circulating through polite society. Whilst ensconced there, she decides to secure a husband for herself and a future for her eligible but reluctant daughter, Frederica. In doing so she attracts the simultaneous attentions of the young, handsome Reginald DeCourcy, the rich and silly Sir James Martin and the divinely handsome, but married, Lord Manwaring, complicating matters severely.
Review: The fact that LOVE & FRIENDSHIP is based on the Jane Austen novella "Lady Susan" will be a huge draw for many. Mix a decent amount of good natured humor with the expected Austen romance and you get a fun, lighthearted trip back to the 1790's. This one is dressed for success and ready to mingle in polite society.
To create a 90-minute film from a writing that was little more than a short story there has to be liberties taken. To the casual viewer these changes will be unrecognizable and those who have read the novella will find no harm either.The characters are plenty and each with their own quirks and eccentricities. Everything centers around Lady Susan (Kate Beckinsale) and her actions that would have been perfect for a Real Housewives of Churchill reality show. She is cunning but likeable, clever yet with an air of innocence.
The men in Lady Susan's life are the most enjoyable to watch. Sir James Martin (Tom Bennett) is a hilarious addition and seems more suited for Faulty Towers or a Monty Python skit. He is easily the most fun to watch. Of course young Reginald DeCourcy (Xavier Samuel) is the Austen poster boy for charm and swoon worthy features.
It must be stated that of all films based in the Jane Austen world this one certainly feels the most like an afternoon Soap Opera. The way the characters are introduced and the subtle ways the flirt and move about give it a staged feel and often causes the dialoige to be a bit too rehearesed and predictable. This is not a deal breaker but keeps it from being close the greatness of past tellings.
LOVE & FRIENDSHIP is rated PG for some thematic elements. Content is on point for the time period and without a hint of anything objectionable. I give it 3 out of 5 little green peas and I can appreciate what they wanted to do. There is nothing remarkable to take away but a fairly fun stroll none the less.