Chloe Sevigny (early-career, between Gummo and Boys Don’t Cry) works in publishing with her coworker/roommate/frenemy Kate Beckinsale, and they frequent the disco run by Chris Eigeman (Metropolitan). Kate dates ad-man Mackenzie Astin (star of The Garbage Pail Kids Movie a decade earlier), and Chloe dates Matt Keeslar (Waiting for Guffman, Rose Red), who turns out to be a district attorney investigating the club owners. Not being Stillman obsessives (yet) we didn’t recognize cameos by the Metropolitan and Barcelona casts.

M. ditched the movie halfway in, because she hated all the characters, but I thought hating the characters was part of the point (maybe not, since it’s based on Stillman’s own experiences) and greatly enjoyed. This came out a couple months before 54, less than a year after Boogie Nights, and I skipped it at the time, which was maybe smart since it’s more to my tastes now than in 1998.

A comedy about how easily manipulable men can be. I think Lady Susan (Kate Beckinsale) ends up getting everything she wants, though her American friend Mrs. Johnson (Chloë Sevigny) helps her figure out exactly what that is. Susan knows she wants to be married to someone rich, knows her daughter Frederica (Morfydd Clark of the Mia Wasikowska Madame Bodary) needs to be set up as well, and Susan doesn’t exactly want to break off her affair with the married Mr. Manwaring.

Susan is lodging with her dead husband’s sister in the country: the suspicious (but not unfriendly) Catherine (Emma Greenwell of TV’s The Path), and her brother, eligible bachelor Reginald (Xavier Samuel of The Loved Ones). The daughter is being pursued by doltish Sir James (Tom Bennett of TV’s Family Tree). Sevigny is back in London, strictly prohibited from associating with Lady Susan by her older husband Stephen Fry, so there’s some running around.

Fun movie with great dialogue and performances, and a few stylistic flourishes (opening titles set to music, character introductions, text onscreen when letters are read). This is the only Kate Beckinsale movie I’ve seen except her very first movie, Much Ado About Nothing. Makes me wanna watch Last Days of Disco right now, but I’ve already watched one Whit Stillman movie without Katy so I should wait.

M. D’Angelo:

Whit Stillman adapting Jane Austen is almost too perfect—and that’s especially true of Lady Susan, whose title character is orders of magnitude more duplicitous and destructive than any of the heroines in Austen’s proper novels … It’s fun to watch Lady Susan bulldoze her way through 18th-century propriety, but an entire film of wry breeziness is a bit like a seven-course meal that’s all sumptuous desserts … still, it’s not as if movies today offer such a surfeit of wit and sophistication that one as purely pleasurable as Stillman’s Love & Friendship can be dismissed.

EDIT, SEPT 2016: Watched again with Katy who is concerned that the characters and language (was “anxiety” the misused word?) don’t represent Jane Austen’s point of view. I continue to believe the following frame is one of the best-ever uses of onscreen text.

The structure is bizarre, and scenes suddenly fade out. If that means there’s a longer cut somewhere, bring it on, because I could live inside this movie for another hour or two. Four girls with flowery names solve all problems on their college campus – smelly fraternities, suicide threats, the lack of a dance craze for their generation, and so on.

Flower girls: fearless/fragile leader Greta Gerwig (between House of the Devil and Frances Ha), logical Megalyn Echikunwoke (new The Omen TV series), Carrie MacLemore (Stillman’s TV pilot The Cosmopolitans), and new girl Analeigh Tipton (Warm Bodies).

L-R (I think): Tipton, the suicidal girl who steals Gerwig’s boyfriend, Echikunwoke, MacLemore, Gerwig

Noel Murray:

Whatever mode he’s working in, few filmmakers have ever been as attuned to the way we cheerfully lie to ourselves, right up to the point where the truth is exposed, and we’re left with a choice between breaking down or soldiering on. Or, as so often happens in Stillman’s films, both.

Dana Stevens on the ending:

In Shakespearean-comedy fashion, the various couples partner up and skip through the wooded Seven Oaks campus, dancing and singing to the Gershwin brothers’ song “Things Are Looking Up,” (which was first performed by Fred Astaire in a 1937 musical called A Damsel in Distress).


I like the idea of bringing period into a present-day film. It’s period as a way of solving our problems. The things that worked in the past have been tested a little bit, while the solutions to the future have not been tested. We know that people taking showers is going to have good results. Up to a point.

It’s debutante season (Katy had to explain to me what that is) in Manhattan, so a group of friends home from college for the holidays get dressed up and hang out every night, mostly just the seven of them – but they pick up a “downwardly mobile” red-haired outsider named Tom early in the season and rope him into joining them for the whole two weeks of party games, dancing, jealousy and highly literate conversation.

Tom claims to be too much of a radical socialist to participate in such old-fashioned upper-class nonsense, but is easily enough convinced to buy a secondhand tuxedo and join in, especially when he finds out his ex-girlfriend Serena is a friend of the group. Molly Ringwald-looking Audrey crushes on Tom, while Charlie (a more intellectual Max Fischer) crushes on Audrey – as the others fade away over the second week, these three will remain from the core group.

Sally is the group’s host, who ends up with a gross record producer, Cynthia an easily-annoyed argument-baiter, Fred a tired guy who drinks too much then decides the group’s no fun anymore once he sobers up, and Nick the self-aggrandizing center of attention until he returns to school early. Nick’s at war with ladies’ man Rick who is currently dating Tom’s ex. Oh and there’s Jane, whom I already can’t remember.

After Tom hurts Audrey’s feelings pining after his ex, Audrey and Cynthia disappear to Rick’s house. Charlie and Tom are concerned enough for her welfare that they take a two-hour cab ride to rescue her. Audrey seems to be in no danger, but every girl likes to be rescued, so she goes with them, walking back to Manhattan talking vaguely about their futures. I kinda loved the movie, and especially the ending.

Beaten by Ghost for the screenplay oscar, Chameleon Street for best picture at sundance, and To Sleep With Anger (fair enough) for indy awards screenplay. Looks like half the cast appears in Last Days of Disco. Audrey (Carolyn Farina) was in The Age of Innocence as a relative (sister?) of Daniel Day-Lewis. Nick (Chris Eigeman) in a bunch of indie movies including Kicking and Screaming. Cynthia (Isabel Gillies) is billed just under David Lynch in the Nadja cast and Charlie (Taylor Nichols) appeared in Jurassic Park III.

L. Sante:

The dialogue is ostentatiously written; every character wields subordinate clauses and uses words like however and nevertheless. The combination of stilted speeches and deft behavioral acting sometimes seems peculiar, but it is also peculiarly apposite. Like Austen, Stillman wears his irony lightly and deploys it affectionately.

Urban haute bourgeoisie… is a term coined by Charlie, who is obsessed with the ongoing failure and imminent doom of his class. Stillman obviously thinks something of the sort himself—the movie’s title is subtle in its archly irrelevant grandeur, but you wonder if Twilight of the Gods didn’t cross his mind. (At one point, Tom’s bedside book is shown to be Oswald Spengler’s The Decline of the West.)

Speaking of the low-budget resourcefulness of the movie’s production, Sante says “a picture about the rites of passage of the urban haute bourgeoisie might be expected to appear as impeccably composed as The Earrings of Madame de…“. Having just watched that film, I thought of it in a different respect. At the beginning of both movies, as we’re being introduced to the characters I groan inwardly: not another movie that expects me to care about the minor problems of privileged rich people. At the end of Madame de… the minor problems have become major and I still don’t care (actually I came to respect General Charles Boyer somewhat), but Metropolitan made me love its overeducated rich-kid protagonists.