Love & Friendship

Love & Friendship ★★★★

Took me a while to get into this one, but is that because of the film? Or because of the incredibly loud beer festival going on outside the cinema that was clearly audible throughout? Either way, I eventually managed to adapt my ears, so I win.

I enjoyed Damsels in Distress but felt like it didn't quite match up to the quality of Whit Stillman's first three films - it's good to see him fully back on form here, turning his gift for sharp dialogue (and finding actors who are good at delivering it) to a period setting (with a little help from Jane Austen). Kate Beckinsale is pretty much playing the same character as she does in Last Days of Disco (I suspect time travel), manipulating all around her with a sly smile and a sharp turn of phrase.

Whether it was the noise pollution, my lack of familiarity with this kind of period drama or the script itself, the first act seemed a little high on character introductions and low on laughs, but as everything falls into place this moved from perplexing to delightful and very funny indeed. Tom Bennett gets most of the early laughs, his Sir James Martin being among the finest movie idiots, but the full ensemble are firing on all cylinders by the end, and it's ace.

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