“Love & Friendship” isn’t your average Jane Austen adaptation.
During a special Los Angeles screening of the romantic drama, director Whit Stillman emphasized that his take on Austen is notably different from those of predecessors. He joined leading lady Kate Beckinsale at the DGA Theatre in West Hollywood Tuesday to introduce the very first film based on Austen’s unfinished “Lady Susan.”
“All of Jane Austen is comic, but this Jane Austen is particularly funny, ” said Stillman. “It’s a chance to emphasize that in a way that it’s been deemphasized in some of the other films.”
This is evidenced in the film’s trailer, which focused more on the hilarity that ensued rather than the landed English gentry during the late 18th century.
“When people see it, I think they will be surprised at how funny this movie is,” Beckinsale told Variety of her reunion with Chloe Sevigny and Stillman. “It’s just not typical what you’re expecting from Jane Austen with the romances and tea parties; this is super funny.”
She described her hard work — which was complete with full immersion of the literature and time period — as something that she rather enjoyed while transforming into the first onscreen Lady Susan.
“I’m so glad that I get to be part of the first cast to put this Jane Austen [novel] on screen because there has been so many adaptations, but this is sort of a little secret gem,” she said.
“Beautiful, sophisticated and recently widowed, Lady Susan is also an inveterate schemer — ‘the serpent in Eden’s garden,’ in the words of her sister-in-law, Mrs. Catherine Vernon (Emma Greenwell), who alone seems to see through the woman’s pleasing manners and the unfailingly seductive effect they have on the men in her midst,” Variety critic Justin Chang wrote in his review.
While many of Lady Susan’s quick-witted deliveries prompted chuckles throughout the screening, Sir James Martin (Tom Bennett) received the majority of laughs by portraying the aloof yet eligible bachelor who becomes the best victim of the former’s masterful manipulation.
Stars in the audience included Pablo Schreiber, Sarah Silverman, singer-songwriter Miguel and Amazon Studios head Roy Price. Amazon and Roadside Attractions nabbed “Love & Friendship” following its Sundance Film Festival premiere in January.
After the screening, guests made their way to the Chateau Marmont for the after-party to enjoy buffet-style dinner and desert.
“Love & Friendship” bows May 13.