Love & Friendship — Whit Stillman Brings Jane Austen’s Comic Gem Lady Susan to the Screen

Love & Friendship (2016) poster 2016 x 200The highly anticipated release of Love & Friendship, filmmaker Whit Stillman’s new adaptation of Jane Austen’s novella Lady Susan, arrives this Friday, May 13 in Los Angeles, New York and Paris with national release set for May 27, 2016. Early praise for the film is more than encouraging: “FLAT-OUT-HILARIOUS. Jane Austen has never been funnier.” – The Telegraph; “Whit Stillman and English novelist Jane Austen make for a delightful pairing in this comedy of manners.” – The Star.com; “Kate Beckinsale magnetizes the screen.” – Variety.

We have long been a champion of Austen’s Lady Susan. So much so we dedicated an entire blog event to it in 2009, A Soiree with Lady Susan. For those who have not read this delightfully wicked novella by Austen written in the 1790’s and published posthumously in 1871, I highly recommend it. Besides changing the title to Love and Friendship, (also the title of one of Austen’s juvenilia), Stillman has added his movie magic and adapted the story into a screenplay.

Here is a description from the distributor Roadside Attractions:

Humorous and witty, devious and scheming, or Downton Abbey with laughs, LOVE & FRIENDSHIP is an adaptation of young Jane Austen’s novella Lady Susan, believed to have been written in the mid 1790s but revised up to a fair copy prepared in 1805 and finally published by her nephew, James Edward Austen-Leigh, in 1871.

Set in the 1790s, earlier than most Austen tales, LOVE & FRIENDSHIP concerns beautiful young widow Lady Susan Vernon (Kate Beckinsale) who has come to Churchill, the estate of her in-laws, to wait out colourful rumours about her dalliances circulating through polite society.

Love & Friendship (2016) Chloë Sevigny and Kate Beckinsale x 500

Pictured: Mrs. Johnson (Chloë Sevigny) and Lady Susan Vernon (Kate Beckinsale) 

Whilst ensconced there, she decides to secure a husband for herself and for her daughter, Frederica, played by Morfydd Clark.

Chloë Sevigny, who starred with Beckinsale in Stillman’s The Last Days of Disco (1998), plays Lady Susan’s friend and confidante Alicia Johnson, with Stephen Fry as her husband, the “very Respectable” Mr. Johnson.

The waters are troubled by the arrival at Churchill of the handsome, eligible Reginald De Courcy (Xavier Samuel) and silly but cheerful — and very rich — Sir James Martin (Tom Bennett).

Lady Susan’s designs are vehemently opposed by the De Courcy clan: Reginald’s sister, Catherine De Courcy Vernon (Emma Greenwell); his mother, Lady De Courcy (Jemma Redgrave) and father, Sir Reginald De Courcy (James Fleet).  But Susan’s brother-in-law, magnanimous Charles Vernon (Justin Edwards), prefers to see her, and everyone, with a benevolent regard.

Love & Friendship Kate Beckinsale and Tom Bennett 2016 x 500

Pictured: Lady Susan Vernon (Kate Beckinsale) and Sir James Martin (Tom Bennett)

After a series of dramatic turns at Churchill, Lady Susan finally risks destruction when her jealous rival, Lady Lucy Manwaring (Jenn Murray), arrives in London to make a shocking revelation, leading to the denouement of denouements.

LOVE & FRIENDSHIP is produced by Whit Stillman, Katie Holly and Lauranne Bourrachot, and co-produced by Raymond van der Kaaij.

Love & Friendship, by Whit Stillman (2016)

In addition, Whit Stillman has written a companion novel to the film also entitled Love & Friendship with the added subtitle: In Which Jane Austen’s Lady Susan Vernon Is Entirely Vindicated. For those who have read Austen’s original novella, you will remember that Lady Susan Vernon is described by Reginald De Courcy as “the most accomplished coquette in England.” and by others as devious, wicked and “with a happy command of language, which is too often used, I believe, to make black appear white.” To vindicate her scurrilous behavior is an intriguing premise indeed!

GRAND GIVEAWAY

Love & Friendship - Prize Pack x 500

Enter a chance to win one (1) prize package inspired by Love & Friendship including one (1) $25 Amazon gift card, one (1) Love & Friendship T-Shirt, one (1) bookmark and one (1) copy of the book Love & Friendship: In Which Jane Austen’s Lady Susan Vernon Is Entirely Vindicated by Whit Stillman, by leaving a comment with this post by 11:59, May 17, 2016. Winner to be announced on May 18, 2016. Open to US mailing addresses only. Prizing courtesy of Roadside Attractions. Good Luck to all!

Love and Friendship is also part of the Seattle International Film Festival on May 21 and 22.  I hope to attend.

Love & Friendship, Kate Beckinsale x 500

LOVE & FRIENDSHIP

  • Based On: Jane Austen’s Comic Gem, Lady Susan
  • Directed By: Whit Stillman
  • Starring: Kate Beckinsale, Chloe Sevigny, Xavier Samuel, Emma Greenwell
  • Rated PG 

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Disclosure of Material Connection: We only review or recommend products we have read or used and believe will be a good match for our readers. We are disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Images courtesy of Roadside Attractions © 2016; text Laurel Ann Nattress © 2016, Austenprose.com

71 thoughts on “Love & Friendship — Whit Stillman Brings Jane Austen’s Comic Gem Lady Susan to the Screen

    • Claudine (Just Jane 1813) invited me to share a viewing of this with her in NYC on April 27th as JASNA members. We laughed all the way through it. Kate should be nominated for some acting awards with this one. The sets and costumes were magnificent. Plus we both agreed that this was one time when the movie outdid the book. Delightful and I am so thankful to have seen it early…but will see it again & again as I plan to not only go to the movie theater when it opens officially but also to buy the DVD.

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  1. I’ve read the original Lady Susan as well as Lady Vernon and Her Daughter, which is a vindication for Lady Susan. The original is delightful; however, being epistolary there are many things which can never be known. Is she really so pushy et al or is she desperate that her daughter make he best marriage that she can? She reminds me of Mrs. Bennet in some ways. I am really looking forward in going to this movie.

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  2. I’ll be interested to see if we can actually like Lady Susan at all — or will we be hissing whenever she appears on screen?

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  3. Thanks for sharing this review! I can’t wait to watch Love & Friendship – now I’m even more excited for it. It’s great to see Austen’s lesser-known works receive some attention :)

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  4. Kate did the nuances and the double entendres so well…her facial expressions while delivering those lines…how did she keep a straight face?

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  5. I am excited to see this movie adaption. Lady Susan is such a vixen that it will be fun to see what the Whitman adaption does with the story.

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  6. Yay! The long wait is almost over. I’m excited for the release, and Whit Stillman’s novel sounds like it’ll be on my read list. Although I have read Lady Vernon and her Daughter which I thought was excellent so it’ll be interesting to see how his compares.
    Hopefully this movie will inspire more thought to attempting Jane’s smaller/shorter works as film adaptable.

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  7. Been looking forward to this movie .. for the subject and because it is not based on a comic book character. Hope it has a wide release and does not just play at the one “art” cinema 35 minutes away.

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  8. I am really excited about this movie and hope that it will in a theatre in my area. Congratulations to the winner of the giveaway!

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  9. I am looking forward to this film a lot! Two of the better book adaptations were Phyllis Ann Karr’s ‘Lady Susan’ and Jane Rubino and Caitlin Rubino Bradway’s ‘Lady Vernon and Her Daughter.’ I read a few scholars who said Austen was influence by ‘Dangerous Liaisons’ in the style and characters of ‘Lady Susan’ & that might be why I actually liked the Rubino version more because it came off more like Austen. Karr’s was more like a Regency romance. Only thing is I heard in the movie that Alicia is an American?? True??

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    • Yes, and her husband keeps threatening to send her back across the ocean as she continues her friendship with Lady Susan. ~”The ocean trip is very cold this time of year.”

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  10. I’m late to the party for this post, but the Sunday New York Times’ arts section had a great article with the director of this film, then a grand sidebar on Jane Austen movies and adaptations. Having read both, along with this post, and having seen the preview, I’m so excited to see this movie! And wasn’t Kate Beckinsale one of the more recent Emmas?

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  11. Its interesting because my mom has always loved anything by Jane Austin and I’d watch the movie adaptations with her as a young adult but now I’m starting to enjoy the books too. “The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.”

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  12. I’ve been a Jane Austen fan since I was 11 years old and it was the 1995 film version of Sense ans Sensibility that introduced me to her works. There’s always room for a new Austen adaptation in the world but I haven’t read Lady Susan yet so I better get on that before watching the film! :)

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  13. So excited for this one. I never got around to reading this one. I loved The Watsons and Sanditon, and I’ve read many of the shorter stories … I must correct this forthwith! :)

    And I’ll need to catch the movie at SIFF!

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  14. I had no idea this was coming – I’m so excited!! I can’t wait to re-read Lady Susan in preparation for the movie. Austen has been my all-time favorite writer, and I’ve loved Kate Beckinsale ever since she played Emma.

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  15. I have been eagerly awaiting this movie. I love Austen. I love the movies of Stillman. In his movie, Metropolitan, his hero talks earnestly about Austen novels. So I can tell his love of Austen is sincere. Kate Beckinsale is delightful in the trailer.

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  16. I’ve read Lady Susan at least once and enjoyed Lady Vernon and her daughter. The trailer looks good, aside from Kate Beckinsale being way too thin for a Georgian woman, and I look forward to seeing the movie at some point in the future.

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  17. I hope this comes on demand soon! Can’t wait to see this and see all the costuming, scenery and the story of course!

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  18. I have no idea when the film will open in my area, but I would love to see it! In addition to our book and the Karr version (1980), there was a Lady Susan adaptation “Miss Jane Austen’s Lady Susan – Revived” by Helen Baker. (2014) I haven’t read it, but apparently Baker has written several Austenesque works, developed from supporting players in other novels: Caroline Bingley, Mrs. Clay, Maria Crawford.

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  19. Thanks for this review, Laurel! I will watch for this movie and hope to see it. I need to re-read Lady Susan, as it’s been years! ANd I too love Kate Beckinsale ever since seeing her in “Cold Comfort Farm” one of my all time favorites, (after all the Jane Austen films, of course)! I found her a delightful Emma as well.

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  20. Thank you for the review! Awaiting this movie with great anticipation, especially given the positive reviews. A great reason to finally read Lady Susan, a must read prior to seeing the film.

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  21. The trailers look spectacular! Looking forward to seeing it–and adding Whitman’s novel to the stack to be read. Thanks!

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  22. Pingback: Giveaway Winner Announced for Love & Friendship Prize Pack | Austenprose - A Jane Austen Blog

  23. I enjoyed it, but felt i would’ve enjoyed it a lot more if I would’ve re-read the novella before I went to see it. That being said there were some truly delightful moments that were appreciated by my bf even though he was dragged to the film.

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  24. Pingback: “Love & Friendship” Movie Review Launches “Beyond “Pride & Prejudice” : Celebrating The Other Side of JAFF”/ Review & Giveaways – Just Jane 1813

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