Love & Friendship

May 22, 2016 at 7:00 pm | Posted in 2016 | Leave a comment
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◊ ◊ ½

Based on Jane Austen’s novella, “Lady Susan,” this film appears to want to be a sort of “Dangerous Liaisons”-lite. With half the intrigue and half the bite, it also has half the appeal. By all accounts, Lady Susan is an awful woman, determined to use the social mores of the time to manipulate everyone in every way possible. Set in what appears to be the late 1700s, the story follows Lady Susan around London and the British countryside, as she causes disruption and discomfort wherever she goes. This may not sound like much to base a story on and, in truth, it isn’t. The film mostly comes across as a series of vignettes that seem to exist mostly to allow for Susan (and occasionally others) to say something dreadfully clever. And, to be fair, she usually does. The dialogue is genuinely funny and gratefully free of the sort of heavy sentiment that is so typical for these types of films (this is definitely not a Merchant-Ivory production). But, beyond the wit, what we are left with is a weak and wandering story, in which the audience is never quite clear what Lady Susan is trying to do. She is clearly manipulating people but to what end? And, when it does end (which the film does rather abruptly), we still aren’t sure. Did she get what she wanted? Given that I was never quite sure what that was, its hard to tell. As funny as it could be at times, it’s hard to recommend a film when I have no idea where it was trying to go and if it ever got there.

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