WARNING: Reading this article may give away things in the story ranging from unimportant to plot turners.
Love and Friendship by Whit Stillman (Director)
Type: Classic, Historical
Basic Plot: The newly widowed Lady Susan is poor but cunning. Determined to orchestrate her family and “friends” to do her bidding, she schemes a plot that she hopes will fulfill her selfish desires.
Plot: 3½/5 Above Average: The plot is one of Jane Austen’s early short stories, which talks of the rise and eventual downfall of the charmingly wicked Lady Susan. Though one of her earlier works, it has all the interest and complexity of some of her early novels and definitely would have made a good full length. While it was presented a bit silly at times for a Jane Austen film, such as with how ridiculously stupid Sir James Marin was (even if you are dumb, how can you not know what peas are?), I think it still had its charms. It accomplished its goal in making a villain that you know you are supposed to hate, but even as you despise her, can’t help admiring the intelligence and elegance of, with equally well portrayed characters.
Acting: 4/5 Well Done: All of the characters were well acted, from the shy Fredericka to the silly James Martin to Lady Susan herself, all were well portrayed and acted their roles both convincingly and smoothly.
Costumes and Scenery: 4/5 Well Done: Costumes and scenery were consistent and beautiful. Costumes especially were beautiful, though much fancier than most Regency attire is.
Moral: 1/5 Bad and Good Morals: Lady Susan is an immoral, scheming woman, determined to marry her daughter off rich so she can not only marry who she chooses but also carry on whatever affairs with whomever she desires. Throughout the movie, she captures the heart of a good man, only in the end for this man to realize, as his family advised him originally, he should not listen to or be infatuated by Lady Susan. Lady Susan herself eventually sees all of her plans come crashing down. While in the end, she does not get the man she wanted, everybody is content, with Lady Susan’s virtuous daughter getting who she deserved and Lady Susan marrying a rich dunce that can not tell she is carrying on an affair with a married man. In a way Lady Susan does kind of get what she wanted; she gets money, lovers, and doting husband. While I don’t think the story is trying in any way to promote immorality, quite the contrary, I do think it kind of looks like if you do do wrong, things will still all work out for you in the end, and everybody will be happy, which is often far from true.
Overall: 3½/5 Above Average: The story is interesting, especially since Jane Austen almost always writes about the exact opposite type of people, but watchers should proceed with caution that Lady Susan can be interpreted as someone who got away with the consequences of her actions rather than as a scheming, selfish lady. I think women and teenage girls would enjoy it best.
Official Rating: PG
Sexual and Inappropriate Content: 2/5 Suggestive Themes and Brief Nudity: A woman is clearly committing adultery with another man, though it is never shown onscreen. There is some low clothing. There is some nudity of the chest of men and women in works of art. A man thought stupid says that it is understandable for a man to commit adultery but not a woman. A woman is called a flirt, and she briefly mentions flirting and restraining from so. A woman hints that a married woman found a single man attractive.
Violence: 0/5 None
Swearing and Using the Lord’s Name in Vain: ½/5 Brief Mention: Neptune is briefly mentioned in song, and a not too bright character says there are twelve commandments. After being corrected, he asks which ones they could take off, and says even if God did let them take it off those things would still be wrong.
Emotional, Intense, and Disturbing Content: ½/5 Scary Content and Death: A woman fears to go to America, and it is said by her she would be “scalped” or “tarred and feathered” because she is a Loyalist. A woman mentions Solomon recommending they cut the baby in half. A man innocently mentions removing murder from the “Twelve Commandments” that he finds out are actually ten. A woman says she hopes her friend’s husband dies of gout and says it is unfortunate he is “too young to die.” Characters cry or are near tears from marriage and relationship problems. A woman talks about death with a man, and a man’s health and possible death are talked about. A man asks if an animal is injured when he hears someone crying. “Like a struck child” is used for descriptive purposes.
Religious Issues: ½/5 Brief Mention: It is briefly mentioned that the Catholic church sets their commandments up differently.
Magic: 0/5 None
Others: A married couple separates.
Overall: 3/5 Teenage Appropriate: Because of the mature themes in the movie, I would recommend it for teenagers thirteen to fourteen and older at the youngest, with parental guidance that Lady Susan is not a role model.