In 18th century England, the widowed Lady Susan Vernon (Kate Beckinsale) attempts to solve her financial problems by landing a wealthy husband during a visit to her in-laws. However, her scheming is complicated by the sudden appearance of her teenage daughter Frederica (Morfydd Clark), and soon the two women are caught up in a love rectangle with a courtier named Reginald DeCourcy (Xavier Samuel) and a suitor named James Martin who’s as rich as he is stupid (Tom Bennett).
I will say that I haven’t seen too many Kate Beckinsale films besides the Underworld series but I’m still a big fan. It was definitely nice to see her doing something different. If you haven’t figured it out already, this is a period piece based on a novella called “Lady Susan” by Jane Austen. Austen isn’t exactly my most favorite genre so this would be my first foray into this genre but this looked like it could be funny and it has Beckinsale in it.
Because this is a Jane Austen inspired film, expect a lot of British-ness here. With this comes plenty of fast-paced British dialogue that may not always be easy to follow. It did take a while to figure out what was going on and that’s not necessarily a good thing being a relatively short film, clocking in at just over 90 minutes. In other words, these types of films are an acquired taste so Austen fans will love this and non-fans might find themselves lost and maybe losing interest.
The film is about a widow named Lady Susan Vernon (Beckinsale) attempts to solve her problems by trying to land a wealthy husband while on a visit to her in-laws. Things do not go according to plan once her teenage daughter Frederica (Clark) appears and complicates things for Susan. The two then end up in a love rectangle involving a man named Reginald DeCourcy (Samuel) and a dim-witted rich man named James Martin (Bennett).
Susan is a manipulator. She has to find a way into people’s lives in order to survive, often taking advantage of her friends’ hospitality. She misses being wealthy so she is trying to find herself a wealthy husband or was she trying to find a husband for her daughter Frederica? This wasn’t always clear as the dialogue wasn’t easy to understand or follow. There was probably more going on here but certain things just were missed because of this. Some will probably understand everything much better and love it and some might not since this is an acquired taste after all.
While the story is not the easiest to follow, there is still a lot of great stuff here. The film did a great job at depicting 18th century England. Its overall style from the architecture to the costumes to the cinematography was all nice to look at and really made you feel like you were there. Even though this wasn’t the most interesting or exciting film, the performances were still good. Beckinsale stood out here with Susan being fun to watch and likeable even though her character probably wasn’t supposed to be. She did have some funny lines and most of her other supposedly funny lines (I’m just guessing) were a little over my head. Another enjoyable performance here was Tom Bennett’s as the dim-witted Martin. He was definitely the comic relief here. He was just so stupid here that it stood out a little more within the film’s setting.
Overall, while this film is not for everyone, myself included, there was still some fun here that other people will understand better than I did.