First Hit: Definitely funny and well-acted, however a bit more telling than showing.
This was a clever take on life in the late 1700’s. Women of a certain societal stature were to be taken care of by their wealthy husbands or their families.
Lady Susan Vernon (Kate Beckinsale) has had a few dalliances in her life and is currently engage to Reginald DeCourcy (Xavier Samuel), while having an intimate affair with a married Lord Manwaring (Lochlann O’Mearain). She’s looking for a way to both secure her future income while also securing the future of her daughter Frederica Vernon (Morfydd Clark).
They are basically homeless and stay at the homes of friends and relations until marriages are arranged and settled. Assisting Lady Susan, by being a sounding board to her manipulative plans, is American Alicia Johnson (Chole Sevigny) who continues to be threatened to be sent back to Connecticut by her husband (Stephen Fry) for colluding with Lady Susan.
At first Lady Susan was attempting to marry Frederica to a Sir James Martin (Tom Bennett), who was rich, quite talkative, and very odd in his speaking and thought patterns. However, Frederica cannot stand him. From here the story takes off.
The strongest aspects of this film were how they kept in the period, how it was shot and by clearly showing how manipulative people can be. However, this film did a lot of telling through the dialogue which got a bit monotonous at times.
Beckinsale was excellent as the intelligent manipulative Lady Susan. Clark was correspondingly strong as the daughter. Sevigny was great as Lady Susan’s confidant. Bennett was the hit of the film by stealing every scene he was in. Whit Stillman did a wonderful job of writing and directing this adaptation of the Jane Austen novella called “Lady Susan”.
Overall: This film, especially Bennett, was very funny while also keeping a serious tone.