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Love and Friendship - Whit Stillman revisits Austen novella

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Princeton book club and movie worlds collided in June with the opportunity to see indy director Whit Stillman in the flesh at the Garden Theater for a Princeton showing of his newest movie, Love and Friendship. Thumbs up for the movie, and "meh" for Lady Susan, the little known epistolary novella by Jane Austen.

(Our book club had chosen to read Lady Susan given the new movie's arrival, but little did we know we'd have the chance to hear and see the director in the flesh.)

Both the movie and the talk were a trip down memory lane for Austen fans and Stillman afficionados alike. As with all Austen flicks there were great period costumes, witty dialogue, interestng casting choices (Kate Beckinsale as Lady Susan and Chloe Sevigny as her now American friend) and grand settings. But Stillman's handling added more humor, improv and a fully fleshed out cast of extras to life. I found myself laughing out loud throughout the movie, as much at the banter of the main characters as the slapstick-ish footmen and other extras.

Stillman's talk after the movie was the opportunity to gauge the audience's favorite Austen books (Emma was up there with Pride & Prejudice) and to share his thoughts about the process of updating a novel and making a good movie at the same time. Stillman's past work (Metropolitan, Barcelona & The Last Days of Disco) were perhaps more autobiographical and leveraged many of the same cast of characters, but in Love & Friendship, Stillman branched out (except for Beckinsale & Sevigny, who starred in "Disco") with British aplomb.


Moderated by Wendell Collins.

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