Bernard Walsh
EW Staff
May 12, 2016 AT 12:00 PM EDT

Love & Friendship

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
PG
runtime
93 minutes
release date
05/13/16
performer
Kate Beckinsale, Chloë Sevigny, Morfydd Clark
director
Whit Stillman
genre
Drama, Romance

We gave it a B+

The biggest surprise in regards to Whit Stillman’s Love & Friendship is how it’s taken this long for Whit Stillman to tackle Jane Austen. Isn’t that more or less what he’s been doing in all of his films going back to 1990’s Metropolitan? The second-biggest surprise is how perfectly Kate Beckinsale dishes out barbed bons mots as Lady Susan, the titular heroine of the 18th-century Austen novella on which this breezily bitter comedy of manners is based. A scheming widow navigating British high society, Lady Susan is on the hunt for a husband of means for both herself and her daughter (Morfydd Clark), but she finds only dullards and drips in her crosshairs. With a man-eating reputation that precedes her, she’s also a wickedly witty tour guide. Stillman gives the romantic roundelay a deliciously modern feminist twist that ends up being a bit too slight and patly resolved, but over all too soon. B+

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