May 22, 2016


Whit Stillman on Jane Austen and "Love & Friendship" (Adrian Liang, May 17, 2016, Omnivoracious)
Jane Austen lovers, rejoice! Whit Stillman--director of The Last Days of Disco and Metropolitan--has shifted his storytelling focus to a rarely read story by Austen that has never been seen on film or television. Love & Friendship released in theaters on May 13 and follows the tale of Lady Susan, a widow and schemer extraordinaire who tosses off bon mots as she ignites chaos and intra-family strife while she pursues her next husband.

Love and FriendshipLove & Friendship is based on Austen's incomplete novella Lady Susan, but Stillman takes his own liberties with the story, expanding some plot lines and giving it a rousing, hilarious conclusion.

Several weeks ago, we got a sneak peek of this film (released by Amazon Studios), and Love & Friendship marries the best of Austen's wry observations with a cast that makes every line sparkle. Stillman then answered our questions about his adaptation of Austen's work and why he believes that (heroine? villainess?) Lady Susan needs vindicating. [...]

Your films have been called "comedies of mannerlessness," but almost everyone in Love & Friendship is scrupulously polite.

Yes, could you remind me who wrote that? Because I would like to contact him. The "commentary of meaninglessness" is what I would call that; I think it was either the patter of one of our actors  in the context of press interviews, for which anything is excusable, or as part of a larger, otherwise okay article. Ultimately, though, it is better to be clever on the basis of something at least an itsy-bitsy tiny bit true!  Our films are pretty certainly the opposite of mannerless. The original trouble comes from the term "comedies of manners" and the diminished contemporary connotation of "manners." Stephen Fry gave a wonderful interview on the film in which he returns to the Latin original, which was "mores" or "morals" (I believe; could be garbling some of that), so "Comedies of Morals" would work much better.

Posted by at May 22, 2016 10:05 AM