We are lengthy previous the great Jane Austen movie boom of the 1990s, which delivered such gems as Emma Thompson and Ang Lee’s Sense and Sensibility, Amy Heckerling’s Clueless, and Patricia Rozema’s Mansfield Park and although film-makers have remade and riffed upon Austen’s writing in the intervening years, it appears like they have mainly stuck to the hits (i.e.., 4 versions of Pride and Prejudice, by my rough count).
Now, along comes Whit Stillman, the contemporary master of the comedy of manners, who has been essentially making Jane Austen films this entire time without going to the difficulty of making a straight adaptation. Leave it to Stillman to dredge up a lesser-recognized Austen novella (Lady Susan), pair it with an unrelated Austen title (Love and Freindship, despite the fact that he fixed the spelling), and make it the basis for his newest film.
Unsurprisingly, it’s a match created in film heaven. Lady Susan is the precise type of likably unlikable character that Stillman excels at writing, and Adore & Friendship is stuffed complete of eloquent, tart dialogue. Stillman also reunites with his Final Days of Disco leads, Kate Beckinsale and Chloe Sevigny, and they match as effectively into Austen’s upper crust, turn-of-the-19th-Century England as they did in Stillman’s haute bourgeoisie 1980s New York.
Beckinsale plays Lady Susan with a tricky mix of strategic cunning and a total lack of self-awareness that makes it possible for her to extemporize in the identical measured vocal cadence about how much she adores her loved ones and close friends before confiding about how she intends to get the much better of them. Lady Susan is refined, spoiled, dastardly: a con woman who most enjoys tricking these who believe they have caught on to her tricks.
Just such a person is Reginald DeCourcy (Xavier Samuel), a handsome young man who knows of the widowed Lady Susan’s reputation as a schemer and nonetheless falls beneath her spell. Reginald’s household, most specifically his sister Catherine (Emma Greenwell), try to untangle Reginald from Lady Susan’s web, but his only hope is that Lady Susan’s affection for the really married Lord Manwaring (Lochlann O’Mearáin) may somehow inspire her to loosen her grip.
In the meanwhile, Lady Susan wants to make specific that if she can’t but guarantee her personal marriage to a wealthy man, then she can arrange it for her daughter Frederica (Morfydd Clark). As opposed to her mother, although, Frederica is a sweet, intellectual girl, who has no interest in becoming married off for money. It undoubtedly doesn’t help that the rich man Lady Susan has selected, Sir James Martin (Tom Bennett), is a total idiot who doesn’t recognize the novel “tiny green balls” on his plate when peas are served to him at dinner.
Really like & Friendship eschews numerous of the trappings of the romamtic comedy, but even so, it ought to come as little surprise that the film begins to discover its sense of goal as it hints at a achievable compatibility among young Reginald and young Frederica — even as Lady Susan derives pleasure (as do, 1 suspects, Jane Austen and Whit Stillman) from thwarting the effortless coupling of these two.
Chloë Sevigny seems as Lady Susan’s American confidante, Alicia Johnson, who savors hearing about her friend’s exploits and sometimes is complicit in her schemes. Her older English husband, played by the ever-delightful Stephen Fry, is fed up with their acquaintance and threatens to send his wife back to Connecticut if he catches the two women together once again.
In a film complete of note-perfect performances, Tom Bennett steals the show as the boneheaded James Martin, whose unselfconscious blurts of wrongness arguably make him as fascinatingly bold as Lady Susan herself. Bennett’s timing, nonetheless, wrings maximum awkwardness from all of his exchanges even though delivering anything smoother and far more satisfying than significantly of today’s cringe comedy.
Much better Austen adaptations usually successfully dodge the stereotypical stuffiness of period-set films, but even your very first-price Austen flick rarely reaches the level of acidic wittiness achieved by Adore and Friendship. If you are a fan of Austen’s operate, this film certainly comes suggested but if you’re looking for sweeping, difficult-fought-and-won romance, then maybe you should appear elsewhere.
Sony does not drop the ball in translating this new production to home video. The AVC-encoded 1080p 1.85:1 image is pristine. Colour saturation and the level of detail are each exceptional, and there are no major compression or motion troubles.
Naturally, with a Whit Stillman film, dialogue is the major component of the DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround audio, but it comes through with total crispness and clarity. Gentle atmosphere in the surrounds and interstitial music cues give the back speakers something to do. On the subtitle front, the disc offers English SDH, as well as normal English and Spanish subtitles.
Apart from a number of coming attractions previews for other Sony releases, the disc only offers…
- Behind the Scenes of Really like and Friendship (HD, 9:39) – A brief but properly-made EPK with a lot of intriguing on-set footage and some great talking heads from the cast Stephen Fry is specifically thoughtful.
A excellent comedy of manners from Jane Austen and Whit Stillman. Any Stillman fan who felt slightly let down by the uneven Damsels in Distress will be heartened to locate that this comparatively infrequent filmmaker has effectively shaken the rust off and crafted an exquisite gem as great as his 20th Century output. Extremely Advisable.
Justin Remer is a filmmaker, oddball musician, and frequent wearer of beards. He is possibly at the moment covered in cat hair, to which he is allergic. Verify out his band’s new Nick Lowe tribute album.
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