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Austen Novella Love & Friendship Is Delicious Drama

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Austen Novella Love & Friendship

Opening May 20 at select venues such as the Angelika Plano in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, “Love & Friendship” is a drama, written and directed by Whit Stillman. Rated PG for some thematic elements, the film runs 1 hour 34 minutes and is distributed by Westerly Films.

Based on an unfinished early novella titled “Lady Susan,” written by favorite author Jane Austen, this is a lovely film. It stars Kate Beckinsale as a lovely young widow, Lady Susan Vernon, refusing to be hampered by 1790 society mores.

Beckinsale is perfect as the manipulative widow hiding from scandalous rumors that follow her everywhere. She only trusts her confidant (Chloe Sevigny) who encourages her plotting. Their frequent gossip sessions are deliciously silly.

Not only is Lady Susan looking for her next, even wealthier husband. She’s also planning to marry her shy daughter, Frederica (Morfydd Clark) to wealthy Sir James Martin. Delightfully played by Tom Bennett, the dim-witted but enthusiastic suitor steals any scene he appears in.

Meanwhile Lady Susan is trying to snare Reginald DeCoursy (Xavier Samuel) a dashingly handsome but much younger aristocrat. Her schemes are frowned upon by Reginald’s sister Catherine (Emma Greenwell), mother (Jemma Redgrave) and father (James Fleet).

Does Lady Susan succeed in her efforts to manipulate every male she meets, unburdening them from their fortunes at the same time? Or does someone have the power to stop her?

Jane Austen fans know they can usually expect a happy ending for those who deserve it. In “Love & Friendship” everyone gets exactly what they deserve. But the rest of us have a lot of fun on the journey.

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