We went to see "Love & Friendship" last night, and it was pretty funny. I mean, this is pretty much perfectly in my wheelhouse: it's Austen-based, filled with scathing banter, costumed by someone who understands half-mourning, and adapted and directed by the man who -- after a single viewing of "Barcelona" in 1994 -- got the phrase "Every day, in every way, I’m becoming a better and better lieutenant junior grade" stuck in my head for 22 years.
So, basically, it was like a movie made especially for me.
I must reluctantly admit that I've never read the novella the movie is based on, as it's essentially a piece of Austen juvenilia, and having once forced myself to read through most of the Brontes' equivalent material, I swore Never Again to unpublished stuff written by famous 19th century authors when children. But I think I'm going to have to make an exception here, because Lady Susan (as played wonderfully by Kate Beckinsale) is, well, rather naughty. This is partially the story of some hot turn-of-the-19th-century cougaring, after all! And I have to wonder how much of her Bad Behavior was explicit on the page, and how much Stillman inferred or exaggerated for the modern audience.
The characters are also mostly caricatures, but that actually works for the movie. I particularly liked that the jilted wife is never seen except when sobbing. That should irritate, right? But it doesn't. It works.
I also have to give a specific shout out to the costumer, whose graceful understanding of half-mourning (that period of formal mourning dress when the bereaved get to transition into greys and lavenders) was especially good.
Look at that grey and lavender awesomeness!