Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Love & Friendship

**** out of ****

Whit Stillman has a new film in theaters, which is the fifth in his over two-decade legacy of wordy plays on film that fixate on manners. Love & Frienship is based on Jane Austen’s novella Lady Susan and stars Kate Beckinsale as a Lady, kindly oblivious to her dwindling reputation and oppressive nature, who often travels from London to visit her sister (Emma Greenwell) on a large country estate while trying to manipulate better fortunes for her daughter and for herself.

All the performances are winning and Stillman’s affinity for driving a film through rapid dialogue of high vocabulary proves to be very compatible with Austen’s work. This, of course, leaves less-learned folks like myself struggling to keep up most of the time. Regardless, the film is a bright experience with beautiful classical selections to score its rich yet stationary aesthetics. 

The film's occasional stylistic choices may remind viewers of Wes Anderson films, in the way text is displayed on the screen to give the audience program notes on the characters, or to give us the benefit of reading a letter within the story along with a character. 

Overall, this is a very dry period comedy that made a pleasant antidote to the dumb and overt pseudo-drama I often come across when seeking escapism.

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