Bringing you honest reviews of recent releases
Kate Beckinsale – Lady Susan Vernon
Xavier Samuel – Reginald DeCourcy
Chloë Sevigny – Alicia Johnson
Tom Bennett – Sir James Martin
Emma Greenwell – Catherine Vernon
Justin Edwards – Charles Vernon
Morfydd Clark – Frederica Vernon
I was slightly confused by this movie. I couldn’t tell if the producers were trying to be funny or serious. Or neither. What we have here is Kate Beckinsale thrown into a period costume and asked to strut around a Georgian set, playing Austen creation Lady Susan Vernon. Although this is literally all she does, the woman manages to entertain with some great comedy moments. But without such moments I probably would have walked out of Love & Friendship.
It appeared to be a simple enough Austen story made up of the classic high-society characters you’d find in most of her novels; beautiful stately homes and fine clothing, dinner parties and maners all make up a good chunk of this movie’s exquisite feel. And I have absolutely no doubt that fans of anything Austen will love it. I personally sat there in the cinema wondering why the movie had been produced. Not even in a harsh way – I just tried to find reason as to how such a production was worthy of 91 minutes on the big screen. Surely something like this should have stuck to television instead of taking up valuable cinema space.
Plus with the type of production it was, it definitely should have been made a TV movie.
By the end of Love & Friendship I had my arms folded with my head laying back on the seat I was sat in. The squishy material of my seat, together with the sheer boredom I was feeling, made me want to fall asleep right there. This wasn’t my type of movie at all, in any way. Which highly surprised me because when I’d looked it up on Google, it said Rotten Tomatoes had given it 99%. I thought maybe someone was taking the piss and hacked Rotten Tomatoes website to tweak the percentage. Who on god’s earth contributed to the reviews of Love & Friendship?!
The actress plays her part well; she maintains a constantly perfect posture and well-spoken manner which bubbles with class. Lady Susan Vernon was destined to be played by Kate Beckinsale. And the best thing about her performance was the comedy she brought to it. Albeit minimal, a few of her lines were just hilarious and had the cinema audience (including myself) laughing out loud. One example is when a male character walks over to Lady Susan to ask how she is – but instead of managing to strike up a conversation, is greeted with, “begone sir or I shall have you whipped”.
It turns out she and the male are well acquainted, but she just won’t be seen in public with him.
Tom Bennett who played Sir James Martin was just fantastic. Whenever on screen the actor delivered the highest level of comedy than any other cast member. His buffoonish personality ensured awkward moments between characters, which got laughs from the audience. At one point, the man is seen at a social gathering with most of the other characters. As they all perform a traditional dance routine, Sir James hops around clapping his hands and grinning like an excited little boy. It was a fantastically funny moment, one that I wanted to spawn many more similar of throughout the rest of Love & Friendship (after all, this was supposed to be a comedy). But unfortunately this did not happen. Instead, I was treated to very rare comedic moments like this this that I had to wait lengthy periods of time for.
Like crossing a scorching hot desert without water and finding a bottle of Evian every 8 or 9 miles, Love & Friendship runs like a tediously dull period drama and delivers a laugh every twenty-five minutes. This is why I couldn’t decide if it was supposed to be serious or funny. And this – and lack of comedy – is its biggest downfall.
The good thing about Love & Friendship is both Beckinsale and Bennett’s comedic perfection. The pair bring laughs that are a well-needed break from the overall tedious atmosphere the movie contains. But it needed more of this, not less. The producers stamp out any chance of making the production a very funny watch and in reverse, deprive its audience of what could be a highly enjoyable piece of cinema.
Love & Friendship is certainly not one to rush home for. Only watch if you are extremely bored.
Oh, and you know that advertisement poster which shows Kate in the middle and a cheeky looking woman to her left (who could possibly be her daughter), with Xavier eyeing her sexily?..
..the cheeky looking woman is a random American character who is hardly in the movie (the servants get more screen time), she’s not even a love interest of the man on the poster as it may suggest.