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Love & Friendship

6/10

Stars: Kate Beckensale, Chloe Sevigny, Xavier Samuel, Tom Bennett, Morfydd Clark, Lochlan O'Mear√°in, Sophie Radermacher, Jenn Murray, Jemma Redgrave, James Fleet, Emma Greenwell

Director: Whit Stillman

Elegant, stylised, civilised and occasionally waspishly witty, but at the same time somewhat arid, arch, bloodless and a challenge to the concentration, this is exactly how the teenage Jane Austen might have penned her early novella (on which the film is based) had she been writing it as a play.

Beckinsale is head and shoulders above the rest of a largely little-known cast as the winsome widow Lady Susan Vernon who, with her American friend Alicia (Sevigny) in tow, battens herself and her daughter Frederica (Clark) on to rich relations in the hope of making a suitable (monied) match for either herself or her daughter.

Immaculately (and colourfully) dressed, the period piece also features a fleeting appearance by Stephen Fry, in for a cough and a spit as Sevigny's long-suffering husband. He is, however, the recipient of the film's best exchange, deservedly delivered by Beckinsale, who describes his hapless character as 'too old to be governable, yet too young to die.'

David Quinlan

UK/Ireland/France/Holland 2016. UK Distributor: Curzon/Artificial Eye. Colour (unspecified).
93 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: PG.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 30 May 2016