Whit Stilmann’s cinematic production of Jane Austin’s “Lady Susan” proves a triumph in film. The repartee found in the script creates a humor both intelligent and sharp. Rather than speaking blunt, as is customary in today’s age, the characters find ways to hide daggers in their flowery discussions. Watching the film, one must keep a keep up with the quick dialogue so as not to miss any gems hidden within. While the script and artful cinematography is incredible and strong in of itself, the film is truly made by the portrayal of the main character Lady Susan.
Kate Beckinsale delivers a career-defining performance as the quick witted, intelligent heroine. Beckinsale perfectly melts into the character, not just portraying Lady Susan but seemingly becoming her. Lady Susan toys with the emotions and motivations of the other characters with a methodical and cunning nature. She serves as an outstanding contradiction to the role women played in Austin’s time, more closely resembling a modern woman. It is refreshing and welcomed to see a female protagonist with ample independence and power over others.
The remaining cast are essential and well performed, in many ways enabling Beckinsale to flourish. Tom Bennett, portraying Sir James Martin, gives a comical and foolish portrayal; serving as a lightning rod of witty retort for the rest of the characters. Chloë Sevigny portrays Alicia Johnson, the needed “sidekick” to Lady Susan and her plans. The only American character and actress in the cast, Sevingy never feels out of place among the quick tonged British natives. No one in the cast falls short of perfection in performance or delivery. While not the traditional summer blockbuster, Love & Friendship offers substance and intelligence in the season of capes and explosions.