The posters for Love & Friendship, the latest comic outing from Whit Stillman, included statements from critics like:
Love & Friendship stars Kate Beckinsale as Lady Susan Vernon, who takes up temporary residence at her in-laws’ estate and, while there, is determined a find a match for her daughter Frederica — and herself too, naturally.
I stole that plot summary from IMDb because I couldn’t remember much about the plot of this film. It was boring and I didn’t care about anyone. They were all rich, snobby egomaniacs, and not the interesting kind that you can find in films. Instead, I just found myself thinking about why this film has a 99% on Rotten Tomatoes, with one negative review. Is it just that it’s not my brand of humor? Well, my theatre didn’t have many people laughing out loud. Is it because it’s so different from most of the comedies you see today? Is it a Jane Austen fandom? (The film is based on a Jane Austen novel called Lady Susan) Is it that people are used to the crap they tend to get, so anything alright is amazing? Were my expectations too high? Is it because I’m 15? Do I not get it? I’m really not sure why people are loving this movie so much...
Was there anything good? Tom Bennett as Sir James Martin is kind of funny. He’s pretty naive in the movie, and is an exception to the stereotyped snobby, smart rich aristocrats. The difference is appreciated.
The movie looks good, and it’s not too flashy with a beautiful setting. The way Stillman introduces characters is interesting, employing freeze frames with text describing a particular quirk of the character, which often try to make you laugh.
I think after all those questions I asked myself, I’ve decided it’s just not my sense of humor. I have a more visual mentality with my humor, although I don’t necessarily exclude dialogue-driven humor. I just didn’t find it amusing here. So I asked myself: “if it can’t make you laugh, what else does it have to offer?” And I didn’t find it offered very much else. Who knows, I might revisit it in a couple years and look back on this review in disdain. And yet, when I’m part of that 1% on Rotten Tomatoes, I can’t help but feel guilty. So tell me; if you’ve seen this film and liked it, without talking about how much it made you laugh, can you describe other good things about it? Let me know. Because most of the best comedies I know -- Annie Hall, Some Like It Hot, Borat, Fantastic Mr. Fox -- all these films have characters I can care about, messages behind them, and dramatic elements, while Love & Friendship lacks these. So let me know.