Kate Beckinsale stars as Lady Susan Vernon, a recently windowed mother of one and notorious flirt who tries to make a life for herself and her daughter. She’s broke but gets by on her well-spoken nature and keen wit, playing people off each other to get her way.
This is a dry, clever comedy dressed up as a schmalzty period piece. Scratch beneath the surface and Love and Friendship proves to be razor sharp and quietly hilarious. The jokes come thick and fast, and Beckinsale’s deadpan delivery makes it seem like she’s got the whole cast wrapped around her finger.
Stillman manages to strike a unique tone, interspersing bursts of activity with quiet pillow shots. He also tactfully avoids any major drama, letting the screenplay do the heavy lifting.
Love and Friendship won’t be to everyone’s tastes but I found it to be a welcome break from the bodice ripping romances we have become accustomed to. One of the better releases of the year so far.