Film review: Love and Friendship

This would be a perfect candy of glamour and mischief if only it wasn’t over too soon.

 

Why do characters in costume dramas have to speak so quickly? The dialogue in this film is a fizzy delight but only if you have extremely quick-witted hearing, or if like me, you turn on the subtitles and then use the pause button to read it.

 

Kate Beckinsale is perfectly cast as the irresistible but ruthlessly scheming Lady Susan Vernon. We’re left to guess how big a role she played in her late husband’s demise and she certainly doesn’t seem troubled by grief but she is working hard to provide for herself and her daughter.

 

As the widow makes her way around an assortment of relatives, we fear for what she’ll do to them while also cheering her on to succeed.

 

The film is based on the novella Lady Susan by Jane Austen. Why only a novella, Jane Austen? This is too good a character to do so little with, as is her confidante, Alicia Johnson, played by Chloë Sevigny.

 

The end of Downton Abbey has left a certain kind of void; if it was up to me this dastardly dowager’s antics would be extended to fill its place in our viewing schedule.

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