Love and Friendship, rated PG
This delightful film, set in the 1790’s in England, is based on a little-known and unfinished early novella by Jane Austin which wasn’t published until nearly a century after it was written. The film is directed and the screenplay written by Whit Stillman. The film features an outstandingly wicked performance by Kate Beckinsale as the deceptive and manipulative widow Lady Susan Vernon.
After the death of her husband, Lady Susan, known as “the most accomplished flirt” in 18th century England, has moved into the home of Lord (Lochlann O’Mearáin) and Lady Manwaring (Jenn Murray). As the film begins, she has been caught having an affair with the Lord and is kicked out by Lady Manwaring.
She then shows up at the Churchill estate of her brother-in-law, the likeable Charles Vernon (Justin Edwards) and his wife Catherine (Emma Greenwell), a place she had previously had no interest in visiting. It is there she meets Reginald DeCourcy (Xavier Samuel), the handsome young brother of Catherine.
Soon, Lady Susan’s late teen daughter Frederica (Morfydd Clark) shows up at Churchill, having run away from the school she had been sent off to. For purely financial reasons, Lady Susan wants Frederica to marry the bumbling but rich Sir James Martin, hilariously portrayed by Tom Bennett. But Frederica has no interest at all in Sir James.
Throughout the film, Lady Susan shares her scheming plans with her American friend Alicia Johnson (Oscar nominee Chloë Sevigny), who has been forbidden to see Lady Susan by her husband (Stephen Fry), with punishment resulting in being sent back to America.
There are many references to Christianity, some quite humorous, in this film. The acting, costumes and set designs of this film make it worth seeing.
The book of Proverbs offers warnings about women like Lady Susan, such as Proverbs 5:3-4:
For the lips of a forbidden woman drip honey,
and her speech is smoother than oil,
but in the end she is bitter as wormwood,
sharp as a two-edged sword.