Love & Friendship: a review


I once had the privilege of working with a psychopath. Mind, I did not see it as a privilege–I thought I was losing my mind!  I did not know then that I would one day be a writer and find the experience useful.

Confrontation with this amoral woman was impossible. There was always a devious spin on the truth, and if I stood my ground there came a frontal attack so unexpected that, like the unhappy family members in Jane Austen’s Love and Friendship, I was left gaping. She was at fault, entirely. Why then was I the one being accused?

“Facts,” says Lady Susan, “are horrid things.” My former coworker would heartily agree.

love-friendship-decourcyIf you are expecting the romance of, say, Pride and Prejudice, you might be disappointed. This is more like having Mr. Wickham’s machinations at center stage. Nevertheless, Love and Friendship is comedy of manners at its best, with elegance, wit, and humor.

I wasn’t sure how my oldest son–and particularly my sentimental husband–would respond to this film. I needn’t have worried. Like the rest of the audience, they were captivated by Lady Susan’s subtle spell. It was only a matter of time before the truth caught up to her–and yet we had to know how her diabolical genius would wiggle free.

Ah, but this is Austen. Right does triumph in the end, at least for Susan Vernon’s put-upon relations. Off she goes to weasel a living out of other hapless victims. If we didn’t feel so sorry for them, we would have cheered.

Love-and-friendship-2I salute the director, Whit Stillman, for casting a beautiful woman as Lady Susan. Charm and loveliness add significant punch to how awful she is–and this is where Austen adaptations sometimes fall short. Persuasion’s Elizabeth Elliot, for example, is far lovelier than her sister Anne. Because moviegoers might struggle with the heroine being eclipsed, Miss Elliot is often cast as unattractive. Not so with Love and Friendship. Kate Beckinsale is brilliant, at the top of her game, and so are the supporting cast members. There is not a weak performance among them. This film is one I will purchase and watch again, simply for pleasure.

As in all good storytelling, there are truths to be mined.  Not everyone is fortunate enough to have worked alongside a psychopath, right? One of the reasons I love Austen is because she is honest about how life works. Lady Susan will never reform or “see the light.” We feel for her family, and when she at last goes on her merry way, our relief is palpable.


Laura Hile (1)


9 thoughts on “Love & Friendship: a review

  1. Susan Kaye

    It’s interesting how Austen seems to write sociopaths so well. In our time we have named the behavior, but are reluctant to label the user. The other day, I saw Kate B. interviewed on a talk show and she thought Lady Susan Vernon was just a woman using the tools available to her at the time. My hope is that Whit Stilman kept that from being the theme.

    I look forward to the costumes regardless of Susan’s terrible ways. Trekking all those miles to a theatre it isn’t in my future. I’ll see it when it comes to Netflix. My last pay-to-play involving Austen was too disappointing to be repeated.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Laura Hile

      In Jane’s time and in ours, we must “manage” people like this–which looks very much like we’re funding / enabling them. To make an enemy of someone with no morals, conscience, or remorse has long-term consequences. Lady Susan’s family was in a tough spot.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Susan Kaye

        There was no choice but to pack them off to the next member on the list.

        There is a Big Bang Theory with the guys passing hand-to-hand Sheldon in this way. “Tag, you’re it” was their tag line. That could be the sub-title to Lady Susan!

        Fortunately, if the blighter was a man, the head of the family sent them off to another continent with a promise of a yearly stipend if they stayed away. Women, as usual, were, and are, more problematic.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Sophia Rose

    Your comment about the psychopath co-worker had me nodding my head. I did have one like that and was given the ‘handling’ of her while the organization literally waited for her to exhaust the disciplinary process or do something unequivocal enough to get fired. No moral compass and very intelligent. I suppose that could be Jane’s Lady Susan.

    Looking forward to my turn to see it. Nice review, Laura!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Laura Hile

    It’s mind-bending, working with someone like this. It’s the discovery process–during which time everyone thinks she’s normal–that makes you crazy. My coworker certainly kept the drama spinning!


  4. Robin Helm

    I’m looking forward to going to this film. I love the theater experience. Our flat-screen TV, given to us by the the daughter and son-in-law who are overseas, is wonderful, but nothing beats the big screen and surround sound.

    I SO much agree with about casting beautiful women for parts which should be played by beautiful women. The casting of Anne Elliot has been very good, but I have never seen an Elizabeth Elliot played by a actress with the right combination of beauty, age, and personality. Every Persuasion adaptation I’ve ever seen was very disappointing in that regard.

    Let’s go to Hollywood (or Canada) and show them how it’s done, Laura.

    Great review. Thanks!


    1. Susan Kaye

      I think the gal in the 1971 version is quite pretty. Not a stunner, but far closer than Pheobe Nicolls or Julia Davis. In fact, with a dark wig and good make-up, the gal that played Mary in the ’71 version would have been perfect.



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