Bag Girl Reviews: Tuck Everlasting Film and Musical

***Warning: Spoilers***

27Apr2016

To start off, I did not grow up reading this book. My dad starting reading it to me back in 2002 when the movie came out but we never finished it. But looking back I now wish we had because nowadays I’m kind of obsessed with this story after my college student’s childhood nostalgia made me want to watch the movie again and give the book another try. This also coincided with the news that a musical version was coming out. It has since become one of my favorite stories.

Tuck Everlasting (2016) 

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I was excited about this musical coming out but my hopes were dashed with the news that it closed after roughly a month on Broadway after receiving mixed reviews. The couple or so reviews that I read said that the musical was not particularly bad but was not destined to be a great success. Curious as to why this musical I was so excited for was such a big flop, I bought the soundtrack off of itunes and gave it a listen. The music was very good, not quite Hamilton, but I enjoyed it.

The story follows that of the original book. Judging from the book’s plot, the songs, and details I gleaned off of the internet, the story goes as followed: In 1808, Angus Tuck, his wife Mae and their two sons Miles and Jesse drink from a spring whose waters give eternal life to whoever drinks from it (Prologue). Years later in 1893, eleven year old Winnie Foster wants to get out of the house, something she has not been able to do in a while because her family is in mourning for her father, and go to a traveling fair which has come to town. The whole “I’m spunky and bored with my restrictive Victorian life” part of Winnie’s character works better when she is a little girl than it does in the 2002 movie, where she is a teenager who really should grow the fuck up but I’ll get to that later. A line I find funny from the big opening number “Live Like This” in which Winnie describes her boredom and her longing for free, goes something like this “I wish I had wings, I’d look good with a pair. If wings are too much at least give me the pair,” or at least that’s how I heard it. A lyric video corrected later me and it most likely says “give me the fair” but I had a chuckle the first time because it sounded like Winnie, like most eleven year old girls, longs for the day she has boobs. My suspicion that they were trying to add some boob innuendo is still strong. But enough of my filthy minded ramblings. Meanwhile, Mae Tuck reunites with her sons, the grumpy Miles and the happy-go-lucky Jesse, played by the twee but endearing Andrew Keenan Bolger, after a ten year separation. Also, the man in the yellow suit, the barker of the traveling fair , has come to come looking for something unspecified. Winnie, after bringing a toad into the house, is not allowed to go to the fair and decides to rebel by running off to explore the woods outside of her house (Good Girl Winnie Foster Parts 1 and 2.) There she finds Jesse Tuck drinking from the spring. He tries to prevent her from drinking as well and distracts her from her curiosity by getting her to climb trees with him (Top of the World.)  Jesse’s mother Mae and brother Miles take Winnie away with them because they fear she knows about the spring.

Because of Winnie’s disappearance, the town constable and his bumbling trainee deputy Hugo are sent to look for her (Hugo’s First Case parts 1 and 2.)  The constable and Hugo, specifically Hugo, serve as comic relief. Back at the Tuck house, Mae, Miles and Jesse explain to Winnie about the spring and how it has prevented them from aging and dying (The Story of the Tucks) and decided to keep her with them until they know they can trust her not to reveal their secret .  Mae reminisces to her sons about the day she and their father fell in love (My Most Beautiful Day). Winnie grows fond of the Tucks, specifically Jesse, who brings her to the fair disguised as a boy (Partners in Crime.) The two realize that they are kindred spirits and perhaps meant to be together. Jesse asks Winnie to drink from the spring when she turns seventeen, the age he was when he drank and therefore has stayed, so they can be married and see the world together (Seventeen.)  This is the closest thing there is to a romantic scene, although obviously they do not kiss or anything because someone who is supposed to be seventeen kissing an eleven year old is icky and they probably were not allowed to because Sarah Charles Lewis, who played Winnie, was eleven/twelve years old at the time and Andrew Keenan Bolger was thirty. This scene would be creepy if it, and Andrew Keenan Bolger, were not so goddamn adorable. But the man in the yellow suit overhears them and learns about the spring. He gloats about how he’s going to use the spring water to make a fortune (Everything’s Golden.)

Winnie decides to accept Jesse’s offer and anxiously awaits the day she can drink from the spring ( Seventeen Reprise.)  Miles tells her about his tragic backstory, which was alluded to in The Story of the Tucks.  He was once married and had a son but his wife left him and took the son away when she found out about the Tuck family immortality (Time.) This is why Miles is such a grump. Part of the reason why Jesse wants Winnie to drink from the spring is so that he would not have to spend his eternal life alone (Time Quartet.)  The plot thickens when the man in the yellow suit gets the rights to the forest from the Foster family in exchange for telling them their daughter’s whereabouts. The Constable and Hugo decide that he is a scumbag (Everything’s Golden Reprise/You Can’t Trust a Man.)  

Angus Tuck takes Winnie for a ride in a rowboat and shares his belief that death is a part of life and should not be feared with the implication that she should not drink from the spring and live a normal life instead (The Wheel.) While getting water from the spring to give to Winnie, Jesse is confronted by the man in the yellow suit, who tells him that he was been searching for the Tucks for years after hearing stories about them from his grandmother, who was told them by a friend (Miles’s ex wife.) He offers the Tuck family a chance to be in on his scheme to sell the water and threatens Winnie when they refuse to let him have the spring. Mae pistol whips him with a shotgun to protect Winnie, thus killing him and being in danger of being hung for murder (The Story of the Man in the Yellow Suit.) After the Tucks break Mae out of jail, Jesse gives Winnie a vial of the spring water to drink when she grows up. She ponders whether or not she should drink it, eventually deciding to live a short but full instead (Everlasting.) Winnie grows up, marries Deputy Hugo, and goes on to live a long and fulfilling life. Many years later, the Tucks return and find Winnie’s gravestone (The Wheel (Finale).) This is one of the big tearjerk moments especially when Jesse starts singing a reprise of The Wheel. 

From what I’ve seen of this musical, it is very enjoyable and the performances are very good. The performance of Sarah Charles Lewis was particularly impressive considering she is so young and her relationship with Andrew Keenan Bolger’s Jesse is super cute. Terrance Hill as The Man in the Yellow Suit is a blast to watch. Though I do think Tuck Everlasting was anything ground breaking or spectacular, there’s nothing glaringly bad about and  I think it deserved a fairer chance. 

Tuck Everlasting (2002) 

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Despite having a decent 6.7 on IMDB, this film kind of has a bad reputation for straying from the source material and supposedly turning a deep and poignant story into a trite teen romance. I enjoyed this movie growing up and still do but I admit that it is silly at some points and I perfectly understand why someone would not like it, especially if they were very attached to the book. Perhaps I was more forgiving because I was the target audience and did not have an attachment to the original story.

The word I would use to describe this movie is pretty: The cinematography and music are beautiful with lots of squirly shots of fields and trees and the lilting, wistful tune of Mae Tuck’s musicbox being the central musical theme.  The acting in the film is decent, there’s no spectacular performances but the actors are all believable. Ben Kingsley is delightfully hammy and creepy as The Man in the Yellow Suit despite looking like Curious George’s owner’s evil hippy uncle. The dialogue is more than a little cheesy at points but it fits the movie’s whimsical tone.

One of this version’s biggest divisions from the original is that they aged up the character of Winnie Foster (Alexis Bledel) making her fifteen instead of ten or eleven, as she is the book. The way this character is established in the film sets me up to hate her. She’s the cliched spunky period heroine who’s ahead of her time and feels stifled by her upper class life that you’ve seen a million times. She mopes around, complains about having to wear a corset (bet you haven’t heard that one before), and does things like play baseball with a bunch of urchins which I guess is supposed to impress us with her pluck. There’s nothing really to her in the beginning besides being bored and whiney, which is the way most teenaged girls are, I know I was. Winnie does get more likable when she meets the Tucks and loosens up and all of the cliches do not piss me off as much as they might have.

I guess the reason why they made Winnie older is so that her relationship with Jesse (Jonathan Jackson) could be more of a romance and this romance is the focus of the film. In the book, the focus is on her connection to the entire Tuck family and Jesse is more of an older brother figure, though Winnie does have a bit of a crush on him and they do have a special bond. Jesse even asks Winnie to drink from the magical spring when she grows up so they can be married. Jesse in the film version always kind of reminded me of Jack from Titanic, the manic pixie dream boy who cheers up the upper class heroine who’s unhappy with her life. There’s this scene where Jesse and Winnie are talking about the Eiffel Tower and Winnie says that she would ride up to the top in an elevator but Jesse says that if she went with him, she would have to take off her shoes and walk up. For years I thought that that exchange was between Jack and Rose. As hokey and pandering as the relationship between Jesse and Winnie is, it is still super adorable.

The relationship between Jesse and his older brother Miles is also interesting in this version. They are very different, Miles is sullen and cynical while Jesse is carefree and  up for a good time, and Miles is always on Jesse’s case, especially in regards to bringing Winnie into their lives and possibly exposing the secret of their family’s immortality then later falling in love with Winnie but you can see that Miles does not want his brother to get hurt the way he was hurt. Miles always reminded me of my older brother Tom, because Tom was always the grump of the family.

There’s a lot in this movie that is silly and cliche but that it is outweighed by how much I love it. If you want to watch something that’s cute, magical, and romantic, and you’re in a very forgiving mood, I would definitely recommend it.

Fun Fact: The town used for modern day Treegap is called Berlin Maryland; my grandparents used to have a vacation home near there.

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Bag Girl Goes: 1910s 


25 June 1910

This morning, Father and I drove to Danvers to attend a gala day at the Rebecca Nurse Homestead, an old house which had belonged to one of the victims of the Salem Witch Trials. There is also a barn and a meeting house which survives from the 1600s. The house, barn and meeting house have been restored over the past few years and has been opened to the public just recently. Father and I each had to pay 25 cents to get in; a bit pricy if you ask me but it was worth it.

Exploring the house was the first thing we did and what struck me was how low the ceilings were. I’m very short but did not feel so inside; Father had to duck his head at some points. The inside of the house was decorated as if it were the Colonial Era with bunches of dried herbs hanging on the wall and pieces of furniture like spinning wheels. The final room had glass cases filled with bits of pottery and other things excavated from the site.


The meeting house was filled with chairs and had a white cloth placed on the altar table as if a Puritan church service or town meeting was going to take place. I guess this was where the concert of patriotic music scheduled for later today (The Fourth of July being a little over a week away) is going to be held.


The weather today was perfectly beautiful and wonderful music was played to contribute to the gay atmosphere. It was not too hot today and there was a delicious breeze. The Nurse house site has plenty of shade, so it was pleasant to sit outside. Father bought me a bag of popcorn and half a dozen biscuits which we shared. I enjoyed a glass of root beer.


I was glad to see a lot of children here, running around and having a ball. Bringing them to things like this gives them an appreciation for history. There was also games set up for them; games like bowling, ring toss, and bean bag toss. I played all three of them and did very well at bean bag toss, winning a little American flag.


I met this girl named Alana who was about my age and works at the Nurse homestead. I quite admired the dress she wore and I’m going to look for the pattern and perhaps mother and I could put together something similar. There was also another girl there wearing a dress made from the same pattern.


Before we left, Father and I went into the little shop which the barn has been turned into. It sells books, postcards, and colonial themed knick knacks; I bought two books on herbs and how they were used in medicine, cooking, and cosmetics during the colonial era.

On our way out, I stopped to chat with this gentleman whose suit was particularly dapper.

Father then drove me to Salem, where I met my friend Jasmine and her mother for lunch and then we attended a rally for women’s suffrage, which the three of us wholeheartedly agree with, in Salem Commons. When that was over, I took the train back to Gloucester. I got the train schedule  wrong so I ended up waiting at the station for over an hour. Mother picked me up at the station when I finally got home.

Bag Girl Reviews: Bonnie and Clyde Films and Musical

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Anyone who knows me knows that Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker are two of my favorite historical figures and I find them interesting for the way that they have entered into popular culture as romanticized folk heroes and what their lives have to say about the time period they lived in. It’s a perfect case of history making great fiction and I’m not surprised that the story of Bonnie and Clyde has been adapted for stage and screen a number of times.

Bonnie and Clyde (1967) 

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The film that launched a fashion for mid length skirts and a brief fad for banjo music. Bonnie and Clyde, the 1967 film by Arthur Penn, struck a chord with the anti authoritarian zeitgeist of the late 1960s because of its story about young lovers on the run from the law. This movie is also noteworthy for as one of the first graphically violent films, ushering in the gritty and  bloody slasher films of the 70s and 80s. I often describe this version as the comicbook version, tending as it does towards stylism. It is intended to be more of the legend of Bonnie and Clyde rather than historical fact. At points the film feels like a parody of the type of movie it is but that is by no means a bad thing.

Bonnie and Clyde is usually categorized as an action/adventure romance but it could also work as a comedy because the film is filled with hysterical vignettes, hijinks, and bits of dialogue. A scene which always cracks me up happens in the beginning when Clyde goes in to rob a bank, only to find that the bank has gone under and therefore there is no money.  Clyde then forces the teller to go outside to tell Bonnie about the situation and she starts bursting out laughing. Another scene which never fails to get a laugh out of me happens right after, when Clyde is robbing a grocery store and has the grocer at gunpoint while reading out a shopping list. A butcher then attacks him with a meat cleaver and a fight breaks out between him and Clyde. After Clyde is able to escape and drives off with Bonnie and is horrified that someone would attack him. The action and chase scenes are funny in a Roadrunner cartoon type way, with the wily Barrow Gang always managing to outrun and humiliate their would be captors. In my opinion,  the comedic highlight of the film is the scene with the then relatively unknown Gene Wilder, who plays the man in a couple that is kidnapped by the Barrows when the go after the gang for stealing their car. Here is a clip from that portion of movie.

Some of the film’s strong points are the performances of its lead actors, Warren Beatty as Clyde Barrow and Faye Dunaway as Bonnie Parker, who are both very charismatic and enjoyable to watch. Dunaway is great as the sexy, tough-as-nails gunmoll and also has a southern belle haughtiness. Beatty, as Clyde, is charming, badass, and oh-so smooth with a puppyish vulnerability. He has the snort laugh which is very dorky and cute. Their iconic portrayals are perhaps what first comes to mind when you think of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow.

Bonnie and Clyde’s best known scene is the final one, the violent deaths of its two lead characters. A quick burst of gunfire then dies down to complete silence and those near by creep out to see the carnage and it is subtle and powerful. For all the film’s humor, there are also some emotionally heavy moments as the Barrow Gang’s crimes begin to catch up with them. Bonnie and Clyde‘s moral is perhaps “It’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt.”

The film is an enjoyable ride with plenty of laughs and a bloody end and I highly recommend it.

 Bonnie & Clyde (2013) 

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A two part History Channel  miniseries which aired in December of 2013 but Netflix Instant Watch steams it as one two and a half hour movie. I very much enjoyed this version when I first watched it but when I watched it a few more times, I began to see the flaws in it. I still enjoy it and recommend it but I would not say it’s the strongest adaptation of the Bonnie and Clyde story.

The 2013 version of Bonnie & Clyde is intended to be more realistic and historically accurate than its 1967 predecessor. But when it does stray from realism and historical accuracy, it strays a lot. I’ll get to that later. An interesting part of this story is that there is plenty of focus is put on the time period that Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow lived through and the experiences that formed them, things which are only alluded to in the 1967 version, and the actual crime spree, the focus of the 1967 version, makes up only about half of the run time. The 1967 version begins with its two lead characters meeting and going on their joy ride, while the 2013 miniseries goes into what came before all the car chases and shoot outs, things like Bonnie getting married very young and separating from her husband and Clyde going to prison and suffering from abuse there.

Clyde, played by Emile Hirsch, is this version’s central character and posthumous narrator. Hirsch’s Clyde comes off as basically a decent guy who fell into a life of crime because he came from a poor family and did not have many options because of the Great Depression. He expresses a desire to go straight at several points it the story but circumstances, perhaps fate, keeps bringing him back. One of the oddest plot threads in the 2013 version is that Clyde get visions of things that happen later on in the story, such as his brother Buck getting shot and killed and Bonnie being badly burnt in a car crash, because he survived an illness as a child. This perhaps is a reference to descriptions of Clyde Barrow having a knack for avoiding and getting out of scrapes. The vision plot thread seems out of place and does not add much to the plot. It also distracts from the realistic tone the series is going for.  But other than that, I really enjoy Emile Hirsch’s performance; he has the slickness and charisma necessary for the character but is more deadpan than Warren Beatty’s Clyde and always seems 100% done-with-this-shit. I think I like Hirsch’s Clyde better than Beatty’s in the way the character is written because his background is more developed and motivations are clearer.

One thing I do not like in this version is Bonnie, played by Holliday Grainger. Holliday Grainger is an actress I really enjoy and I loved her as Lucrezia in The Borgias and I was excited to hear she was going to play Bonnie Parker. The problems I have with the character are in how she was written. Perhaps I was expecting the character to be something like Lucrezia from The Borgias, since when one thinks about it, Bonnie Parker and Lucrezia Borgia have a lot in common besides having been played by Holliday Grainger. Both have gone down in history as two of its greatest bad girls; both of them did not have the best taste in or luck with men; both were hyped up to be worse than they probably were. Lucrezia, despite being characterized as a poisoning black widow in the histories written by Borgia enemies, was mostly likely just a pawn of her family. There’s also no evidence that Bonnie ever killed anyone either. Bonnie in Bonnie & Clyde is something of an attention whore who gets wrapped up in the publicity and excitement of the crime spree and I think Grainger was going for some of Dunaway’s sexy menace but comes off as more of narcissistic beauty queen than as a gal who would cut a bitch and pop a cap in their ass.  There’s a plot point that Clyde’s family does not like her, for a example, Clyde’s sister-in-law Blanche bad mouths her at one point. But in the interactions we see between Bonnie and Blanche, Bonnie is perfectly nice to her and we do not see why Blanche would talk crap about her, other than that Blanche is catty and Bonnie and a bit of a bitch. Bonnie in this version does not work as a nice girl we’re supposed to like or as a bad girl we’re not supposed to like. Maybe she’s supposed to be morally ambiguous, one might argue. But a morally ambiguous character should be interesting. I think the story tries to explain why she is the way she is but the character just falls flat.

One of the 2013 version’s biggest deviations from history is when Bonnie callously shoots two motorcycle policemen while high on painkillers. This is based on an accounted from a nearby farmer who claimed that they saw a man and a woman step out a car and shoot the policemen. But most historians accept an account where two men stepped out of the car, one was Clyde Barrow, and the other was a gang member named Henry Methven. The Methven family was promised a pardon for Henry in exchange for ratting out the Barrow Gang (Henry Methven’s father would be the one to betray Bonnie and Clyde in the end), so the killing was pinned on Bonnie. The killing may have even been a misunderstanding since the account says the Clyde gave the orders to “take them,” possibly meaning that he wanted to kidnap them but Methven though meant kill them. I can imagine Clyde face palming after this.

I would recommend this version to fans of historical mini-series and fans of Bonnie and Clyde. The flaws I find in it mostly come down to personal preference but these flaws in it are major and prevent me from enjoying it as much as I did when I first watched it.

Bonnie & Clyde (2012) 

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In its off Broadway incarnations, Bonnie & Clyde received encouraging reviews and appeared to be a promising show when it made its way to Broadway. But the show closed after only sixty-three performances, like Bonnie and Clyde themselves, being killed off young. The consensus among critics at the time was that the musical was sappy and overly romanticized, but it was acknowledged that the story felt relevant in the post recession of 2008 age of reality television and trashy idiots from nowhere becoming famous for being famous and the performances of its two lead actors, Broadway favorites Laura Osnes and Jeremy Jordan, did receive some praise. After its short life, Bonnie & Clyde gained a posthumous fan following and there is a something of a conspiracy theory that critics were prejudiced against the show because of the previous failures of its creators, Frank Wildhorn and Don Black.  I have to admit that I am one this show’s fans and think it may have been judged unfairly.

Bonnie & Clyde is a sort of combination of the 1967 version and the later 2013 version. It is similar in tone to the 1967 version,  rollicking and comical but with some emotional and tragic moments, and similar in content to the 2013 version, being book-ended by the violent deaths of its two lead characters and its first half dealing with what lead up to the famous crime spree.  Also like the 1967 version, it works in ways which may have not been intended. It is sappy and overly romanticized because that is how the two lead characters behave. Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow in this version come across as naive fools with delusions of grandeur.

Laura Osnes and Jeremy Jordan are both very talented and enjoyable performers and they are part of what makes the show work. Osnes was an odd choice to play Bonnie; being a soprano had made her something of a perpetual ingenue which some felt was inappropriate for the part. Her portrayal of Bonnie is a girl who is blinded by love to the point of being delusional which is a fair way of viewing her when one looks at the actual history. Jordan, as Clyde, is slick, charming, cocky, and borderline psychotic and is really fun to watch. Osnes and Jordan have perhaps the strongest chemistry of the three pairings I have discussed. You buy that Jordan’s Clyde could sweep Osnes’s Bonnie off her feet at their first meeting and you buy the bond between them which is one of the most important elements needed to make the story work

Bonnie & Clyde, like it’s 1967 predecessor, is a story meant to get us to laugh along with two crazy kids and their crazy antics and feel bad for them when these antics have their inevitable consequences and like the 1967 version, I feel it succeeds.

If You Would Like To Learn More About The Real Life Bonnie and Clyde 

Time Watch-The Real Bonnie and Clyde.

American Experience-Bonnie and Clyde

Just For Fun 

Epic Rap Battles of History-Romeo and Juliet vs. Bonnie and Clyde  

Bag Girl Reviews: Love and Friendship

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*Beware Spoilers*

This latest addition to the list of Jane Austen film adaptations is based one of her obscure novels, Lady Susan,  an early work of Austen’s which was not published until after her death. It’s title was taken from a piece of Austen’s juvenilia.

I first read Lady Susan back in 2012, when I was sixteen and making my way through a compliation volume of Jane Austen’s novels. The story first stood out because it was different in structure from the rest of Austen’s oeuvre because it is an epistolary novel, a genre popular in Austen’s day, and told entirely through letters. Another thing which stood out to me was that it felt like a cynical parody of one of her novels. It exposes the manipulative and immoral dark side of the Regency world of manners and courtship. Lady Susan is a dark version of Mrs. Bennet from Pride and Prejudice who tries to force her innocent and mousy daughter into an advantageous marriage to a complete buffoon. She is also the dark version of the quintessential Austen heroine, a beautiful, charming, and witty woman trying to catch a wealthy and eligible suitor. Lady Susan has perhaps more in common with Dangerous Liaisons  than it does with Pride and Prejudice, specifically in its epistolary format and its themes of seduction and manipulation.

It was excited when I heard that a film version of this story was coming out and could not wait to see it. When I read that it was being given a limited release, I thought that the nearest place showing it would be some little cinema in Boston and I would have wait until it came out on DVD to see it. There are two movie theaters within a half hour from where I live, the AMC at the Liberty Tree Mall and the Hollywood Hits. Best case scenario, the film would have shown at the Hollywood Hits which tends to show more arthouse type films. To my surprise, the film is being shown at the AMC. I was also surprised to find a nearly packed theater. This is a little less surprising when you consider that Love and Friendship has been getting glowing reviews from critics and has an impressive 99% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Love and Friendship stars Kate Beckinsale as the tenacious and seductive Lady Susan Veron and Chloe Sevigny as Alicia Johnson, Lady Susan’s best friend and confident, and features Stephen Fry in the small but scene stealing role of Mr. Johnson, Alicia’s not-taking-any-of-this-shit husband. It’s script and direction by writer/director Whit Stillman well captures the wittiness of Jane Austen’s writing while still making it his own and contains several comedic gems. Though I felt that the stupidity of the ridiculous Sir James Martin was taken a bit too far, specifically in that he does not know what peas are and in the “Church and Hill” scene, both of which can be seen in the trailer , and some of the running jokes, such as the nobody knowing who King Solomon is, wore a bit thin.

The film’s plot focuses on the widowed Lady Susan, who flees rumors about her affair with the “Divinely Attractive” Lord Mainwaring and goes to stay at her in-law’s country estate.  From there, she schemes to marry off her shy and sweet-natured teenaged daughter, Frederica, to the wealthy and simple minded Sir James Martin, who makes Mr. Collins look like Mr. Darcy, and ensnare the good looking and naive Reginald de Courcy for herself.  Kate Beckinsale’s portrayal of Lady Susan allows the viewers to see past the charming facade to the cold hearted bitch that lays underneath to the point that it is frustrating when the characters are fooled by her. She comes across as a complete narcissist who cannot see, or refuses to see, the negative effects that her machinations have on other people. The hysterical outbursts of Lord Mainwaring’s spurned wife are played for laughs but I could not help feeling bad for her but to someone like Lady Susan, other people’s pain does not matter or is something to mock. The original Austen version as well as the Stillman adaptation give the impression that we are supposed to like Lady Susan in a way, because of how determined and witty she is and because she is not like those other boring, goody two shoes heroines we associate with period fiction. This is clear in the fact that she wins in the end, by snagging Sir James for herself while still continuing her affair with Lord Mainwaring and passing off her and Mainwaring’s love child as Sir James’s (this last part not being in the original.) We are supposed to admire how Lady Susan can have her cake and eat it too. In contrast to Beckinsale’s flamboyant Lady Susan, Chloe Sevigny’s performance as Alicia Johnson is more understated and deadpan. Alicia comes across as somewhat more intelligent than her friend and perhaps the true mastermind of their schemes; she being the one who suggests that Lady Susan set her cap at Reginald de Courcy and later that she marry Sir James.

Like most Jane Austen adaptations,  Love and Friendship ends with a wedding, the wedding of Reginald and Frederica, whose fragile innocence and sensitivity eventually lured him away from her mother. Lady Susan’s remark at the wedding party that “a Veron will never starve” gives the impression that she realises that Frederica may be a chip off the old block. Love and Friendship is as morally grey as a story can be. Corruption goes unpunished and is even rewarded and virtue may not be all that virtuous.

I highly recommend both the book and the film to fans of Jane Austen and of witty costume dramas.