Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - WEEK IN MOVIES -

Di­rec­tor: Whit Still­man (Metropoli­tan) Star­ring: Kate Beck­in­sale, Xavier Sa­muel, Morfydd Clark, Emma Green­well, Justin Ed­wards, Stephen Fry, Chloe Se­vi­gny. Ver­dict: Any­thing but plain Jane

FROM one of Jane Austen’s lesser­known works – the posthu­mously pub­lished novella Lady Su­san – springs one of the finest Austen movie adap­ta­tions on record.

It is not that Love and Friend­ship merely dares to be dif­fer­ent. Cour­tesy of an un­char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally unlov­able and cheer­fully dis­hon­ourable lead char­ac­ter, this witty and wry movie is both dar­ing and dif­fer­ent by de­fault.

It is the turn of the 19th cen­tury, and the self-styled “most ac­com­plished flirt in all of Eng­land” is look­ing for a new man to tease, se­duce and, if so de­creed by her bank bal­ance, marry.

Lady Su­san Ver­non (a mag­nif­i­cent Kate Beck­in­sale) is a young-ish widow who loves the good things in life, and has the badly be­haved in­cli­na­tions to get her hands on them as needed.

A man with money, a ti­tle, or both, is merely some­thing to be ma­nip­u­lated for ex­tended pe­ri­ods of shel­ter, or brief mo­ments of plea­sure.

As Love and Friend­ship be­gins, Lady Su­san is on the re­bound from Love and Friend­ship.

a doomed dal­liance with a dash­ing mar­ried man, Lord Main­war­ing (Lochlann O’Mear­ain).

While she plots her next move, Lady Su­san takes up res­i­dence at Churchill, the coun­try es­tate of her obliv­i­ously sup­port­ive brother-in­law Charles (Justin Ed­wards) and his jus­ti­fi­ably sus­pi­cious wife Catherine (Emma Green­hill).

It isn’t long be­fore Su­san de­tects a worth­while mat­ri­mo­nial move might be made on Catherine’s naive younger brother Sir Regi­nald (Xavier Sa­muel).

As in­sur­ance, should her cap­ti­vat­ing charm fail her, Su­san also has a daugh­ter, Fred­er­ica (Morfydd Clark), ready to be lu­cra­tively wed­ded to the next el­i­gi­ble nitwit who may come along.

One of Fred­er­ica’s po­ten­tial suit­ors, Sir James Martin (Tom Ben­nett), fits the bill per­fectly. This gent’s per­sis­tent id­iocy in the face of rea­son be­comes one of the film’s many high­lights, and pro­vides a cru­cial coun­ter­bal­ance to Lady Su­san’s re­lent­lessly cyn­i­cal ma­noeu­vres.

As you may have gath­ered by now, Love and Friend­ship is a busily plot­ted af­fair which picks up char­ac­ters and puts them down (and oh, how caus­ti­cally does Lady Su­san put them down) at a re­mark­ably crack­ing pace for a pe­riod-era farce.

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