Love And Friendship is based on Jane Austen‘s novella “Lady Susan“, and was a film I was really looking forward to after watching the trailer. It opened with introductions to members of the cast, as they looked on in an awkward style, as one might many centuries ago when faced with a modern film camera. I was in fits of laughter at this, including the descriptions of some, such as describing Sir James Martin (Tom Bennett) as “a bit of a ‘rattle'”, plus I enjoyed the opening track, Purcell's March/Music for the Funeral of Queen Mary, which is the same opening theme as found in A Clockwork Orange, albeit that one having a more futuristic bent.
Lady Susan (Kate Beckinsale) is a woman who can wrap men round her little finger. She may soon be partnered up with the dashing Reginald DeCourcy (Xavier Samuel), while Sir James wants to date her daughter, Frederica (Morfydd Clark), and as an aside, in one scene when he’s talking to her, Reginald and Charles, as the camera cuts back to a wide shot, suddenly the doorman is standing on the right-hand side of the door instead of the left.
However, while it started off great, it took me a fair bit of time to get into the style of the dialogue (even though it didn’t feel it would come across this heavy from the trailer), and the longer the film went on, the more the story went off the rails and the less I got a handle on it. The way the relationships worked out just didn’t follow any sort of comprehension and felt incredibly disjointed.
That said, Kate Beckinsale is still insanely hot (Underworld: Blood Wars out in February, folks!) and Tom Bennett puts on a star turn as the only ‘James Martin’ I’d ever want to see on my TV screen, and this must also be the first time I can remember in years that I’ve seen a film that’s a U-certificate that’s not aimed at children, and not packed full of CGI!
Relating this to another Jane Austen tale, both Love and Friendship‘s Morfydd Clark and Emma Greenwell were in this year’s lacklustre horror movie, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.
The film is presented in 16:9 and in 1080 high definition. While cinemas would’ve shown this in the very similar 1.85:1, and IMDB states that is the ratio, I can’t see Lionsgate slightly cropping the print, so I expect it was shot in 16:9 and that’s why it fills the TV screen, here. It looks stunning as you’d expect for a modern movie, and I’m watching on a Panasonic 50″ Plasma TV, connected to a PS4.
The audio is in DTS HD 5.1 and is mostly a dialogue-driven drama with some classical music and a similar overall score from Benjamin Esdraffo. It’s all fine, but you’re not expecting special effects audio shooting all over the place.
The disc just features a trailer (2:03), a brief ‘making of‘ (9:38) with film clips set against chat from the cast & crew, and an Audio Descriptive Track, there’s little to get dressed up for, like the characters in the film. Where’s the Q&A that took place at the UK premiere, at the Curzon Mayfair, featuring writer/director Whit Stillman and Kate Beckinsale, for example?
The main menu features a brief clip from the film and then cuts to a still of Kate Beckinsale and Chloë Sevigny, with a short piece of the main theme. There are subtitles in English and the usual, lame low 12 chapters most studios insist upon. I always work on the rule of thumb of one every five minutes.
Running time: 94 minutes
Released: September 26th 2016
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: Dolby Atmos, DTS 5.1 HD-MA
Aspect ratio: 1.78:1
Disc Format: BD50
Director: Whit Stillman
Producers: Lauranne Bourrachot, Katie Holly and Whit Stillman
Screenplay: Whit Stillman (based on Jane Austen’s novella “Lady Susan“)
Music: Benjamin Esdraffo
Lady Susan Vernon: Kate Beckinsale
Frederica Vernon: Morfydd Clark
Sir James Martin: Tom Bennett
Reginald DeCourcy: Xavier Samuel
Catherine DeCourcy Vernon: Emma Greenwell
Lady Lucy Manwaring: Jenn Murray
Lord Manwaring: Lochlann O’Mearáin
Miss Maria Manwaring: Sophie Radermacher
Alicia Johnson: Chloë Sevigny
Mr. Johnson: Stephen Fry
Lady DeCourcy: Jemma Redgrave
Sir Reginald DeCourcy: James Fleet
Charles Vernon: Justin Edwards
Mrs. Cross: Kelly Campbell
Edward, Head Footman: Jordan Waller
Owen: Ross Mac Mahon
Wilson The Butler: Conor Lambert
The Young Curate: Conor MacNeill