In case you couldn’t tell by this lengthy article about Mr. Darcy, I’m something of a fan of Jane Austen. Austen’s best work combines gorgeous language, keen observations, and a razor-sharp wit. So any time I hear about a new Austen adaptation, my ears perk up. If that adaptation is by the auteur of bone-dry upper-class wit himself, Whit Stillman, then I’m positively over the moon.
So imagine my surprise when I get the Austen/Stillman team-up of my dreams. And once you’ve imagined that, check out the Love & Friendship trailer below.
The trailer makes this look like a perfect mix of Austen and Stillman. Stillman is best-known for his debut film, 1990’s Metropolitan, and his follow-ups, 1994’s Barcelona and 1998’s The Last Days of Disco, after which he took a 13 year break from the industry. Even working in the modern day, Stillman tends towards arch comedies of manners, with witty, well-educated ensembles engaging in romantic betrayals and misunderstandings while debating issues of class and desire. Class is one of the great forbidden subjects in modern Hollywood, so having someone who engages with privilege and privileged people honestly and with such insight is absolutely invaluable. That he does so with as much comedy as he does is just a cherry on top.
While the film is named after one of Austen’s early works, it is actually an adaptation of a later novella titled “Lady Susan.” One of Austen’s lesser-known works, the novella was written when she was very young, before she even turned 20, and while it was completed, it was only published decades after her death. Her youth may explain why the comedy is darker and drier, the moralizing less severe than in her later works. This, combined with Stillman’s style and an excellent cast (including former Stillman collaborators Kate Beckinsale and Chloë Sevigny) make this a must-see film for 2016.
Love & Friendship will be out in American theaters on May 13th, 2016. Written and directed by Whit Stillman adapting Jane Austen’s novella “Lady Susan,” Love & Friendship stars Kate Beckinsale, Chloë Sevigny, and Xavier Samuel.