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Title: Love & Friendship

Movie: :3.5stars:
Video: :4.5stars:
Audio: :4stars:
Extras: :1star:

HTS Overall Score:76

“Love & Friendship” is a cheeky little Jane Austen inspired piece that is actually taken from a very obscure Jane Austen penned novella called “Lady Susan”. Which actually wasn’t even released until after her death. Made up of “letters” back and forth between Lady Susan herself and another recipient, it chronicles the foibles of an aristocratic lady who wishes to marry her daughter off to a man of financial substance, decrying the folly of “love” in youth, while she herself flirts with every man she comes across with a pocket book. The screenplay and directing job both fall to Whit Stillman (who also is involved with the comedy “Damsels in Distress”, which was hilarious), so I had great hopes for his work, but was curious about how much the short novella could be stretched being that it is an obscure Austen work that really has not gained much notoriety until recently. The end results are spectacular, but they are quite solid, giving us a tongue in cheek period piece comedy that works as a nice tagalong for any Jane Austen fan.

The film opens up with The Manwaring family running and screaming after a fleeing coach containing an unnamed person of interest. It seems that this person fleeing the scene is actually Sir James Martin (Tom Bennett) who has been persuaded by Lady Susan (Kate Beckinsale) into marrying HER daughter Frederica (Morfydd Clark) instead of Lady Manwaring (Jenn Murray). The only thing is, Frederica has no desire to marry Sir James Martin, who is a foppish MORON (I say that quite emphatically) of the most epic variety. It’s not to say that Sir James is a horrible person, but compared to the intelligent Frederica he is a bit of a scatterbrained oaf with diarrhea of the mouth. Simultaneously we have Lady Susan flirting with Reginald De Courcy (Xavier Samuel) and wishes to remarry herself as well as shuffle off her daughter on Sir James.

Susan’s confidant and friend through all of this is Alicia Johnson (Chloe Sevigny), a Yankee from Connecticut who likes England and has decided to make it her home. While Susan is circling Reginald De Courcy like the proverbial lion circling its prey, the comedy ensues as each party is dodging the other and trying to manipulate their way into someone’s good graces. Frederica tries to outsmart her mother, while her mother meticulously pushes and manipulates her towards Sir James, while Sir James stumbles around in the dark with this happy go lucky grin on his face belying the fact that his mental capacities may not be the sharpest in the tool shed. All the while the young and impressionable Reginald is enamored with Lady Susan, but simultaneously struck by the charming Frederica. Making it a mother/daughter triangle that only could exist in Victorian England.

Stuck behind an explosive bomb as a vest, and nothing but a TV producer (Julia Roberts) as his saving grace, Lee struggles to appease the agitated hijacker as best he can. Trying desperately to find out answers for Kyle turns out to be a full time job in and of itself being that, as the movie says in the tagline, not every conspiracy is a theory. Every thread pulled reveals that the $800,000,000 stock market loss may not have been as innocent as it was stated, and the tenacious Gates and decides to follow this thread until the very end, no matter what that outcome is.

“Money Monster” feels a bit like a snake without venom, as I said. The bit is there, but Foster does little to actually drive home the point and stake that final nail through the coffin. There are moments where the viewer can actually think critically about the politicized statements about right and wrong in Wall Street, but more often than not we are just left with the surface story of “guy with a gun!” and the bomb scenario. I see what she’s getting at with her jabs at what makes something WRONG, even though it is usually legal to do, but those moments are glossed over as way too much time is spend on staring at Kyle and his ravings while the NYPD try to get the people out of the building and put a bullet in the would be bomber. We have the elements to discuss the trickledown effect of those people at the top and how the lower class people are stuck in a system that they just have to have “faith” in, because the internal workings of our stock market have become so complex that PHD’s and brilliant mathematicians have a hard time keeping up with it all. However, the end result is something that tries to be jack of all trades, but master of none. You can see WHERE the parts were, and WHAT Foster was trying to get at, but the proof is in the pudding, and this particular pudding is just a bit bland and boring.


Rated PG for some thematic elements

Video :4.5stars:
The period piece drama’s 1080p (framed in 1.85:1) transfer is simply marvelous, dazzling the screen with wonderfully saturated colors and fantastic detail all the way around. The brocaded silk gowns worn by our heroines (and villains too) look fantastic, with rich detail from the stitching to the fabric itself showing in every scene, and the cool colors blend seamlessly with the time. There are very few BRIGHT primary colors, but many shades and permutations of said colors in a much more pastel arrangement to be sure. Blacks are deep and inky and I couldn’t notice any major artifacting on the disc at all. The only thing that might be considered a flaw is that the contrast can get pushed a little high at times and look a bit white for the skin tones. Overall it is a fantastic looking transfer that is given a lot of room to breathe in terms of bitrate.

Audio :4stars:
The 5.1 DTS-HD MA track (which actually surprised me as Sony has been commonly putting lossless French and certain other language on board their Blu-rays) is a great replication of the source as well. The only real limitation I see is that it is a period piece drama and a lot of the focus is in the center channel with minimal support for the surrounds except for the score (which is a great stringed score if I do say so myself). Vocals are crisp and clean, locked up front, and the front soundstage actually has a decent amount of activity the sounds of the old fashioned dresses swishing against everything in sight, or the horse hooves as James Martin makes his getaway from Manwaring manor. It’s a simple track, but well done and well detailed as well.

Extras :1star:

• Behind the Scenes: "Love & Friendship"

Overall: :3.5stars:

“Love & Friendship” isn’t based off of one of Austen’s more popular works, but it is still well crafted story based off of a very short novella, and works as a nice diversion for those who enjoy the flavor of a period piece comedy/romance in the vein of Austen’s other works. It isn’t as wide sweeping or epic as others, but the story is cute, Beckinsale is gorgeous and riveting as usual, and the strong supporting cast makes for a great farce. Audio and video for the release range from great to fantastic, but sadly there is really only one extra on the disc to dig into. Still worth a watch if you enjoy the genre. Recommended.

Additional Information:

Starring: Kate Beckinsale, Xavier Samuel, Chloe Sevigny
Directed by: Whit Stillman
Written by: Whit Stillman (Screenplay), Jane Austen (Novella)
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1
Studio: Sony
Rated: PG
Runtime: 93 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: September 6th, 2016

Buy Love & Friendship On Blu-ray at Amazon

Recommendation: Fun Watch

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