Accomplished novelist, Jane Austen, has had her work adapted for the big screen numerous times and to much success. Period pieces such as Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility are just a few of Austen's well-known writings that went on to achieve critical acclaim following their theatrical releases. And now another Austen story finds itself thrust into the summer blockbuster season with Whit Stillman's adaptation, Love & Friendship.
Set just prior to the turn of the 19th century, Kate Beckinsale stars as Lady Susan Vernon, a flirtatious widow who travels to her sister-in-law's estate to escape rumors or her romantic affair with a married man. While there she seeks to secure wealthy husbands for both her daughter and herself, setting her own eyes on a young and impressionable Reginal DeCourcy (Xavier Samuel). But as her scandalous and adulterous behaviors continue, Lady Susan is forced to rethink her match-making strategy.
Love & Friendship blends together typical Jane Austen style with a largely comedic twist. However, the antics and simplicity of the story creep along in a punishingly slow pace that somehow transforms the almost 90-minute work into a lifetime of agony. I will give warning that Whit Stillman's film is guaranteed to be a welcome addition for lovers of Austen's writing. Yet, the feature's flippant humor isn't nearly enough to warrant a severe lack in entertainment. Love & Friendship is targeted for a niche audience who will savor the decor, lingo and charm of its flawed leading character. I must openly admit, though, that I am no such viewer. Instead, I waited tirelessly as the minutes refused to pass, all while enjoying Kate Beckinsale's fully committed performance and very little else.