1790s: Widow Lady Susan Vernon, who has come to the estate of her in-laws to wait out colorful rumors about her dalliances circulating through polite society, decides to secure a husband for herself and her rather reluctant debutante daughter, Frederica.
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A perfect marriage of source material and directorial vision, Stillman’s Love & Friendship is a sumptuously designed depiction of Georgian England that employs its extravagant costumes and opulent settings to comment on the massive economic stakes at play beneath the plot’s surface melodrama.
Stillman's latest retains some of the winningly gleeful goofery from Damsels in Distress, but the fun--necessarily, if anything like a faithful adaptation was desired, as it clearly was--is tempered by the ornately prolix exposition and plotting overkill typical of Austen's writing. The hybrid mostly works, but the machinations sometimes lose their demoniac luster and become merely trying. Paging Sir James Martin!
Interest of full disclosure: there were a couple pockets I hit w/ this thing where I felt suitably champagne-drunk and slightly giddy. Not too many. Mostly I found these characters remarkably tiresome, and, frankly, repellent. I had little dreams of the French Revolution. Kept wishing some Robespierre would come along to slaughter these lambs. The book must be horrid, the only good things here being cinema things.
'Facts are horrid things' Stillman's love of language and egoist behaviour translate very well to period with this witty adaptation of Jane Austen's novella 'Lady Susan'. Scripting is exceptional throughout matched by near perfection in casting. Kate Beckinsale has never been better and supporting turns are very good right down the line with special mention to Tom Bennett, Xavier Samuel and Morfydd Clark.
Whit Stillman finally gives in and makes a direct adaptation of Jane Austen—and proves his bona fides by picking an obscure corner of her work. This is his most purely confectionery film, the only one unconcerned with loss or pain or loneliness. But it's not without witty cinematic ideas. Note the title he picked: men will have their uses, but the relationship between Kate and Chloe is the only one that will last.
There’s hardly a more suitable filmmaker than Whit Stillman to adapt Jane Austen's endless wit. With a sardonic approach to the soap-ish contours of British high society in the 18th century, Stillman uses his trademark sophistication and wonderfully divisive writing to instigate the pleasures of manipulation whilst empowering the intellect of women in an age otherwise neglected.
Admittedly never liked this genre of movies, and couple them with Whit Stillman's incredible ability to make time feel as if it has stopped for a film that focuses on too many characters with too little to say, and you only affirm my points. Seeing this billed as "hilarious" and "uproariously funny" only makes one feel more like a Philistine for not laughing or "getting it." For the most part, it's an exhausting bore