Review: “Love & Friendship” Looks Nice But Isn’t Engaging

Genre: Drama | Romance Directed by: Whit Stillman Starring: Kate Beckinsale, Chloe Sevigny, Xavier Samuel Written by: Jane Austen (based on her novella "Lady Susan"), Whit Stillman
Genre: Drama | Romance
Directed by: Whit Stillman
Starring: Kate Beckinsale, Chloe Sevigny, Xavier Samuel
Written by: Jane Austen (based on her novella “Lady Susan”), Whit Stillman

Synopsis: Lady Susan Vernon takes up temporary residence at her in-laws’ estate and, while there, is determined to be a matchmaker for her daughter Frederica — and herself too, naturally. (Imdb)

So I’ll admit it from the start, there may or may not be a portion of the movie I dozed off on. You won’t blame me after seeing it. Another admission, I may or may not have ever read a Jane Austen novel….ok, I haven’t–guilty. This wouldn’t be my ideal favorite film genre either. I will be fair with this movie though.

“Love and Friendship” is based on a Jane Austen novella “Lady Susan”. On the surface, the film’s story is set in the 1790’s, it doesn’t even crack the 1800’s–it’s old. Lady Susan Vernon (Kate Beckinsale) is the original “moocher” and schemer. She’s a beautiful widow, who fakes her way through life. Her goal is to wed a rich man of power. Oh, she also has a daughter that’s the polar opposite of her. Of course she won’t be a decent mother and set her daughter up with a man, she’s only looking out for herself.


As I mentioned, I’m not a big fan of the film, Austen, or the genre. I love romance, but not the feeble slapstick kind presented in the film. Director Whit Stillman does a nice job infusing some humor with timely jokes, the snappy and witty dialogue will surely provide some laughs, if not chuckles. The acting is pretty solid. Beckinsale owns the role of Lady Vernon. She is spot on with that “posh” demeanor, while being very meticulous with the way she presents herself. Tom Bennett plays the unaware and goofy Sir James Martin, he’s the comedic relief, his dialogue is very fitting to his character. Chloe Sevigny is back on-screen, haven’t seen her in a while, her character mainly stands out for being American, with a lot of cleavage begging to pop out. I don’t mind that. Go ahead and judge.

Sir James Martin is the most enjoyable character in the movie
Sir James Martin is the most enjoyable character in the movie

The visuals are very well crafted. The lighting is fitting. Mostly shot in daylight, the bright natural light flows nicely with the picturesque Irish locales. The costumes are very elegant and have a modern touch to them. They appear very classic, but also there is a modern flavor to them. Maybe it’s because of all the cleavage that Sevigny has showing, my mind has lost focus describing the film. I liked the fact that Stillman, the wardrobe people, and certainly Sevigny went for a more risque costume approach as it works with the personality of the eccentric characters. The costumes, sets, and visuals are the least of the films problems, so onto the issues….


Can’t put it any other way, this film had me really bored and uninterested. Not that the storyline was complex to comprehend, but it wasn’t seamless or compelling. There wasn’t any real moment of intrigue, I didn’t care for the unlikable character of Lady Vernon, even though Beckinsale did a nice job. The movie failed to have many redeeming characters, and the ending was abrupt and confusing.

Kate Beckinsale does good work with a unlikable character
Kate Beckinsale does good work with a unlikable character


With the two paragraphs of “good” you’d think I really liked the movie, but it wasn’t for me. Not to say that there isn’t an audience or market for it–there is. This would be an okay British television movie-of-the-week, but not a wide theatrical release. The wit, clever dialogue, elaborate set and costume visuals are present, but the plot interest just wasn’t there for me. “Love & Friendship” quickly turned to love and hardship.

Rating: PG

Runtime: 1 hr 32 min

Release Date: May 13, 2016.

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  • Acting - 6.5/10
  • Cinematography - 7/10
  • Plot/Screenplay - 4/10
  • Setting/Theme - 4/10
  • Buyability - 4.5/10
  • Recyclability - 1/10

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About Jim Alexander

When it boils down to it, Jim's passion is entertainment. Aside from being an avid sports fan, that follows all things NFL, NBA, and Soccer. He currently resides in the suburbs of Chicago. At the core of his interests...movies! Whether trying to catch the newest flick coming out this weekend, or the latest On Demand release, to heated debates with his friends and colleagues about the most recent "Box Office Blunder". The passion for movies lies deep within him. When he isn't writing, he immerses himself in his other interests; Acting and Radio Broadcasting. Follow Jim on Twitter @JimRko.

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