To be honest, I don’t know how to give a specific rating for this movie. I keep thinking of Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society saying, “How do you rate poetry?” I’m not saying this movie is poetry, but it’s just something I can’t assign a specific number of stars.
That said, I liked Love and Friendship, though I’m not going to claim it was a flawless masterpiece. I had bits I liked and bits I didn’t. As a Janeite, little things sometimes bug me, and it would seem like a trifling with this movie, but there were a few little things.
I’d watched the hubbub when Love and Friendship hit theatres and watched the trailers, eagerly awaiting its release on DVD. My husband added us to the waiting list at the library when we had word they would have it. We were the first to check out the copy.
Now, one of the first criticisms I heard of Love and Friendship from others was the costuming. I read someone complaining that the characters were wearing Georgian gowns rather than Regency. Most historian’s or Janeites, have a time period in which they associate one of Jane Austen’s works. Lady Susan is believed to have been written in 1794, and I would imagine the artists and fashion designers were attempting a late 18th century look rather than the look we associate with Regency, which began in 1811. Fashion plates from 1794 do feature the more Regency-looking empire waistline gowns, but there are Robes a la Anglaise dated to this time period as well. I suppose, they wanted a consistent look to the movie rather than some wearing more modern gowns versus the older styles. Overall, the costuming was lovely, and to be honest, I didn’t have an issue with it.
My only criticism before watching the movie was the title. The movie Love and Friendship is taken from Jane Austen’s epistolary (in letters) novel Lady Susan, who is Kate Beckinsale’s character in the film. What bugged me about the title change is that another of Jane Austen’s juvenilia is called Love and Friendship, and bears no characters in common and no similarity other than it also being in epistolary form. Try to look up Jane Austen’s actual story online these days, and you get a plethora of posts about the movie rather than the book. Grrr! 🙂
Regardless of my gripe with the title, I still really itched to see this movie, and I did enjoy it. I thought Kate Beckinsale was delightful as Lady Susan and I really loved Chloe Sevigny as her great friend and American (gasp!), Alicia Johnson. The two of them played brilliantly off the other and the quips about Mr. Johnson (Stephen Fry) sending her back to the wilds of Connecticut or having a more severe case of gout next time were really amusing.
However (Oh, come on! There had to be a however!), I found the flow to be choppy. Scenes were started and sometimes they felt like they were cut too soon, or the one-liner was delivered so the scene was over. My husband even commented about half-way into the movie that it seemed to be nothing but a series of one-liners.
I will also say that my husband, who is not a Jane Austen fan, but agreed to watch this for me (Who am I kidding! More to watch Kate Beckinsale!) became quite confused as to some of the characters. I don’t think he really grasped who Lord Manwaring was at the beginning which caused him to ask questions when the Manwaring’s names were brought up later in the film.
For those who are Jane Austen fans, I would say go and watch it to decide for yourself. I would never say watching it was a waste of time. I enjoyed it. But I won’t go running out to buy my own copy. As much as I love Jane Austen, I think I will wait and see if a version I like better is released.
Have you watched Love and Friendship? If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts!
6 thoughts on “A Review of Love and Friendship”
I do like this review Leslie. I did note it on Amazon and was thinking of buying it but it was only available on Amazon Prime and I don’t have that . I’m a little relieved now as I would like to consider it a bit more first. I mean I do like Kate Beckinsale but maybe not as much as your husband!!!! (I think I prefer her in Emma to Gwyneth Paltrow). Thanks again 😊
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I had a hard time getting into that version of Emma. I started it, but never got around to finishing it. I’ll have to try it again sometime. Personally, I really like the Gwyneth Paltrow version, so that might be part of it. Thanks, Glynis!
Often a review written by at “non-reviewer” has more validity and relevance than a film critic’s. They’re looking for certain things, while we ordinary folk have different standards. So thank you for reviewing this so well. When I first heard about this film I immediately went to my “Jane Shelf” and discovered I had a story called Love and Freindship [sic] but was immediately advised by fellow Janeites that this is a completely different story. So I started to read Lady Susan and frankly could not abide the epistolary format; I just could not follow the story. Maybe my brain woks differently … So the movie will likely be my only contact with this story. It sounds like — as with most book adaptations — there’s stuff to love and stuff not to love. Once it comes out on DVD or YouTube I’ll be watching it. (I don’t like getting movies or books from the library; they have a very unpleasant habit of wanting their materials back! LOL!)
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I find it depends on the story as to whether I enjoy the epistolary format. I’ve found several that I enjoy. I have Lady Susan and hoped to read it before I saw the movie, but I haven’t had the chance (so many books, so little time!). It is most unpleasant of a library to want their materials back! I do find it convenient for trying out movies and books to see if we like them first. Usually movies, though. If I bought every book my children liked, I’d be broke! Thanks, Janis!
I was so excited when I heard that there was going to be a ‘Love and Freindship’ film because that story is hilarious, but then was a little disappointed when I realised the film producers had decided to be confusing by making a film of ‘Lady Susan’ and calling it by the name of another of Austen’s stories. I see your point about the choppiness, I had heard that criticism of it before I went to see it in the cinema. I wanted to read the story first so I actually read LS in the am and went to watch it in the pm! I don’t think they really overcame the epistolary background. The book is very choppy, but that works, because they are letters, so switch viewpoint and place in a natural way, while the film does the same but of course it doesn’t flow so well. I would also agree that it’s harder for somebody who hasn’t read the book to pick up who is who, whereas in the book it’s a lot easier. I really did enjoy it though. My husband is a great Kate Beckinsale fan also, but alas, the confusion of who was who and what was happening, and what LS says vs. what she means (again, something that’s clearer in the book) sent him to sleep! I thought the film had some big plus points though; it’s very funny, and really quite faithful to the book, which is more than you can say for some adaptations. I would definitely watch it again.
Good on you for getting to the book first. We have such a hectic schedule, that my husband picked L&F earlier in the week and we didn’t get to watch it until Saturday morning (and we had plans for Saturday evening). I never had a chance to read Lady Susan first. I did wonder if some of the choppiness was due to the epistolary format because those do tend to be choppy. She didn’t write it as someone’s journal, which would have more entries and be more day to day. I definitely have to read LS, though! I’ll stick it in my bag one night before I take the kids to swimming. If I don’t find someone to chat their ear off, I’ll have something to do 😉 Thanks, Ceri!