Uh… yeah, I’m… such a… big fan of Jane Austen. Because I’m a cultured and an educated man who understands the fabric of female complexity and at what point did you start laughing at my bullshit?
Rewind, I am uncultured swine and I haven’t read a page or word of Austen’s work. I couldn’t name two books by her. Let me try without Google. The “novella” Lady Susan that this movie is based on, and Pride and Prejudice. *click…Google…* Huzzah! I can name two Austen books. Hahaha, take that, you judgmental haters. Hahaha no, I never read any of the books, your judgmentality is warranted, but SHUT UP, I’M HERE TO TALK ABOUT MOVIES!!!
To further solidify my one-track male brain, I pretty much only saw this movie because of Kate Beckinsale. Hey, I’m a sucker for European women! Particularly Romanian, Slovak, Estonian, and English women. Sue me, I’m a man… who is getting WAY off track here.
Yes, aside from aesthetic appeal, I do love Beckinsale as an actress. I’ve seen her play bad-ass, vulnerable, crazy, and motherly, sometimes all in the same movie. Point is, if she’s in a movie, I wanna see it. This one looked like it would be genuinely witty and even funny for a period piece. Its kind of rare to see Beckinsale in that kind of role, but I was interested anyway. So no more jibber jabber, this is my honest opinion of LOVE & FRIENDSHIP.
Set during the backdrop of the 1790’s. Lady Susan (Kate Beckinsale), who happens to be in a financial rut, finds herself in a complex situation of trying to marry off her idealistic daughter Frederica (Morfydd Clark) to the rich and kind, but annoying Sir James Martin (Tom Bennett), who may or may not have the same feelings for her.
And I always thought there was a language barrier when watching foreign films, yet I found myself relatively lost and making some serious efforts to listening to what the hell everyone is talking about, despite the fact they’re speaking English. But for everything that I did hear… I don’t know, seemed pretty melodramatic and adolescent.
Anyone, feel free to correct me on any information that I might have totally missed, but if I heard correctly, Susan is trying to marry off Frederica to James. Frederica doesn’t want to marry James. James wants to marry Susan, something that we learn very early on in the film. Susan really wants Frederica to marry James. Susan’s friend even brings up the idea of Susan marrying James. Her response is, “No.” Uh… why not? That sounds like a great idea. She needs the money. If she’s that desperate for cash, just marry him and get what she wants.
Especially since she’s just going to come to the same conclusion at the end of the movie and have his baby, an arrangement she doesn’t particularly seem too unhappy about.
Some of this applies to Susan’s relationship with Reginald DeCourcy (Xavier Samuel). I mean, he clearly wants her. He’s got a serious amount of money. He’s single as far as the story showed. Yet, she doesn’t want to be with him because… reasons that very much went over my head.
And despite the semi-language barrier, when I was able to follow the dialog, I heard an awful lot of exposition. Like, a borderline hilarious amount of it, constant references to character motivations that we never saw play out on screen and never really see followed through in other scenes. Or even worse, a scene will play out and eighty percent of the very next scene will be talking about the scene that just took place. Look, I’m a nitwit, fully aware, but… I’m not sure if the script is treating the audience like they all are, or if they were recapping their own scenes to make sure they understood it themselves. Either way, that’s not a sign of competent writing.
I do have to give praise to the actors though. Reading this kind of dialog can’t be easy, let alone making it sound so natural. Maybe I just don’t watch these kinds of movies very often and everyone is actually a terrible actor, but I bought it.
Also, and I’m not one for pointing stuff like this out, but the costumes were absolutely gorgeous. Seriously, beautiful designs and everyone walks around in that stuff with confidence. The designers should be proud of themselves. I know we’re several months away from the Oscars, but this movie has my vote for best costumes.
And I do have to admit that the few jokes that I understood were pretty funny. Nothing jumps out to quote, but there is quite a bit of venomous, snarky comments that did make me giggle. Hey, man’s gotta laugh if he gets it.
I won’t lie, I didn’t hate this movie or even really dislike it. I did enjoy a lot of what I was seeing, but it was hard to care about the problems of these characters whose sole motivation seems to be getting more money and a higher social class with no real sense of consequence if all fails. They’ll be poor and go hungry? Seems like Frederica had that shit figured out, or seems to have confidence that she’ll pull through. There’s no connection that the story makes to the audience, especially if it just amounts to everyone getting what they want in the end anyway. I suppose it’s kinda cute to see Frederica fawning over Reginald, but their relationship isn’t explored.
While I do admit that it’s difficult to review this movie fairly, as I did have trouble understanding it, what little I did is that that all this movie is exposition. It’s an unhealthy mix of intrigue and boredom. I suppose if you’re familiar with Austen’s work, you might have a better time understanding the physical dialog than I did… or if your ears are wired better, which isn’t hard to imagine. If nothing else, you can appreciate the incredible talent it takes to act out this kind of script and the wonderful fashion design. There’s something here for someone.
My honest opinion: 3/5
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