Starring: Kate Beckinsale, Chloe Sevigny, Tom Bennett, Xavier Samuel, Emma Greenwell, Stephen Fry
Directed By: Whit Stillman
Plot: The recently widowed Lady Susan Vernon (Beckinsale) seeks refuge with her in-laws to escape scandal, but decides instead it’s time to find a new husband and secure her future.
What Works: This is one of Kate Beckinsale’s strongest performances. She rarely gets to stretch her comedic legs, or really even her acting legs. Usually she’s stuck in shitty action or horror films. She’s actually really good here. I was pleasantly surprised at her ability to carry this film. In a supporting role, Tom Bennett is a really impressive standout. He would make any drab Jane Austen adaptation so much better. I enjoyed every scene he was in. He turned what is normally a droll role of a boring suitor into a somewhat endearing, babbling buffoon. I was oddly rooting for him, even though it’s clear he’s not meant to get the girl.
What Doesn’t Work: Chloe Sevigny seems marginalized, and not really given the opportunity to show what she’s capable of. Also, Xavier Samuel…well… at least he’s pretty. He’ll always have his looks. I’ll admit, there were times in the film where I was finding it hard to follow who was with who and such, because the film introduces a wide array of characters in an under 90 minute runtime. This is one of those few films that could have actually used more time, simply because I felt there were so many characters running in and out, that it was hard to keep track of who was who, and related to who, and so on.
Final Word: I wasn’t expecting much, and it was better than I expected. Plus, it features two memorable performances from Beckinsale and Bennett that just might make my year end list.
Final Grade: B+