30 thoughts on “Love & Friendship: Yeah, It’s the Hair

  1. Yahoo! Thanks for the review. It’s not often I see a movie *before* you review it, so I’ve been anxiously awaiting this post! I was soooo looking forward to this movie, and perhaps because of my high expectations, I was a bit disappointed. It was definitely pretty, and lively, but not quite as amazing as I had hoped. Ah well, still a fun watch. And yeah, Alicia was annoying… she just didn’t make any sense. I couldn’t figure out her friendship with Lady Susan, she seemed way too dull for Susan to really like her, it would only make sense if Lady Susan was using her… but was she? For her money? Blah maybe I missed something. So glad you reviewed the hair too, since Mrs. Vernon’s hair was really confusing me throughout. It was pretty… but so high!

    Thanks for the review!!

    1. PS. I see what you mean about the men’s hair… but isn’t 1810s hair oh so much more dreamy than late 1790s? I’m okay with the choice ;)

  2. I love Whit Stillman, so you’re not alone there. I think his Metropolitan is still the best Mansfield Park adaptation I’ve ever seen (obviously, it’s more inspired by than adapted from, but all of the Mansfields I’ve seen are awful, so it wins by default). I love Austen’s Lady Susan (and also her Love and Freindship) for sheer comic value. This version was very entertaining, but the costumes were a little less than inspiring. I really liked reading this analysis of why they felt off to me, because I just don’t know the time period well enough to judge for myself.

  3. The ribbons/headbands right at the hairline killed me. It reminded far too much of the stretchy headbands everyone wore in the 1990s and always looked like they were bandaging a forehead wound. The stiffness of the hair was very weird to me too. It looked like we’re trying to adapt hair from old Roman sculptures rather than images from the period the story was set in.

    I thought the necklines of the gowns seemed oddly high for the period. Especially for Lady Susan because she didn’t strike me as one inclined to dressing modestly.

    I was pretty bored through most of the movie except when the complete idiot suitor is saying something ridiculous. The pea thing made me laugh far more than it should have.

  4. I HAVE read the novella, and Alicia in the novella is not specified as American, so it was probably Stillman’s call. (Didn’t quite play for me either.)

    I followed some media coverage of this movie after I saw it–Stillman switched the name with L&F because “Jane Austen uses such fabulous two-part thematic titles” or something along those lines, which, I think he KNOWS, he name-dropped Mansfield Park, is not the case for MOST of her published works. But whatever.

    I’ve been looking forward to this review for a while–something seemed off to me overall, too! But two things not covered here I’d like to ask about: first of all (thanks to the FF squad’s guidance and care) I noticed that most of the men, except Sir James Martin and Alicia’s husband, were wearing boots inside 95% of the time. Is this an exception we might see in the era, or another misguided attempt to make shoes+stockings look foppish, and boots the choice of Manly Men Everywhere?

    The second thing I don’t really have a question about so much as a deep desire to point and yodel–can we talk about Lady Susan’s SMOKY EYE


    1. I’m not sure about the truth of this (ie I haven’t googled it myself, but have been told by someone who usually knows what’s up) but the novella Lady Susan had no name, Jane Austen didn’t name it. I mean, sure, but still confusing. :)

      1. I think you’re right, I remember it being described as ‘titeleless’ in the foreword of the novella when I read it.

  5. “The source novel was published in 1794…”

    “Lady Susan” is believed to have been written around 1794, but it wasn’t published until 1871.

    And it’s been “reconstructed” by several people– including Whit Stillman himself– in more recent times to take it from rough epistolary style to Austen’s more “mature” novel form.

    I do wish Stillman had kept the title “Lady Susan,” though. “Love and Freindship” is one of my favorite Austen works, and when I saw the title announced, I fainted, even though I should have known better.

    1. FTA: “Susan’s daughter Frederica (SUCH an unfortunate name).”

      IMO it’s better than “Morfydd”, the name of the actress playing her. (I’m sure it’s a perfectly lovely name in Wales, but elsewhere, probably not so much…)

    2. You fainted? Surely you learned the moral of Love and Freindship: “Run mad as often as you chuse; but do not faint.”

      I would love to see an adaptation of Love and Freindship.

  6. Great review! I couldn’t agree more. The film is witty and the cast is spot on. I especially like Kate Beckinsale, James Fleet, Frederica, and Stephen Fry (surprisingly handsome in his costume!). I also like the small vignettes and the music. However, there is something about the costumes and hair, and you are spot on. I am partial to the 1790’s, so I was looking forward to this film…. Very heavy hairstyles and some weird costume choices for Lady Susan and Chloe’s character. Too compact and heavy, lacking a certain je ne sais quoi…

  7. Is there a reason why all of Beckinsale’s gown have a way too high neckline? Everyone else’s necklines end at the upper edge of their stays but Beckinsale’s look like they got crossbred with a turtleneck sweater.

    That really annoyed me more than anything else because that made all her gowns look instantly like a Victorian costume party version of the 18th century.

  8. The first two and the colors of all the Beckinsale feel very late 19thc to me. Am I wrong to think those dyes are off?

    1. Totally agree with you! I could be wrong, but the purple dress in particular screams artificial dyes to me (which weren’t invented until the mid-late 1800s). I mean, I guess you could get purple that vibrant by dyeing fabric a number of times with indigo and then overdyeing with madder root, but that’s going to be costly and you probably still won’t end up with something like that purple dress.

  9. “…and the pulled-up overskirt is much more 1775-85 than 1790-5”
    Can I just say how much I love you guys??!? My SO gets annoyed when we’re watching movies together because I have a tendency to say things like: “This movie is set in 1965, but that young women’s hair is from 1961 and that man’s jacket is from 1967.”

  10. How could I miss this? I love Jane Austen. Will have to see it on DVD. Costumes look good at first glance, but seeing the photos you uploaded, you can see the historical misses and WTF is with the men’s hair? Women’s is somewhat better.

  11. I really enjoyed this movie and thought (most of) the performances were fantastic with Kate Beckinsale and the guy who played Sir James Martin being my faves, although I admit I haven’t read the novella (bad Jane Austen fan!). I actually didn’t mind Alicia’s presence that much though I know what you mean about the American accent being jarring. I actually found the actress who played Mrs Vernon more irritating. There was just something about the way her mouth often moved, as if she was having real trouble getting it around the language of the script, I dunno.

    However, I was quite disappointed in the costumes, I thought they really wasted a great opportunity here, although I was prepared for it having seen some images prior to seeing the movie. I agree with all of your criticisms and have a few additional ones of my own!

    I think you’re right that they were going for a date of c.1790 (or early 1790s) and although it was a little tamer then than mid-1780s there was still so much wonderful fluffiness to women’s dresses, hats, hair, other accessories that the women’s costumes in the movie just looked really *limp* and “meh” to me. I did kind of like how they put Fredericka in slightly more fashion forward styles – higher waistlines, proto-neoclassical hairstyles – but still kinda “meh.” Lady Susan wore several *nearly* lovely outfits but I often thought the neckline awkwardly high. For example, the red satin dress, which is nearly *fabulous* has a too-high neckline not only for the period but for the style of stays underneath it. Bodice fronts that contour over the bust are just not right for the corsetry silhouette of this period and makes the dresses look oddly frumpy. The mis-matching bodice/skirt waistlines on the “zone-front” gowns is just wrong and looks like a mistake rather than a design choice.

    I think you’re being a little generous about the women’s hair – but then you are more the expert in this than I! It looked like just-slightly-more-complex-than-generic-“18th century” hair to me. Again, needed, to my eye, much more lightness and floofiness (technical term).

    As for Alicia’s costumes, all I can say is a big fat W-T-F!?

    However, none of this will stop me from watching it repeatedly and probably getting the DVD.

  12. I have very noticeable stretch marks on my chest and so does Kate Beckinsale,(she has been very candid about them in the past) it could be that she didn’t want to draw attention to them, hence the awkward neckline?

    1. Ah, that would certainly be a reason. Although, there is a period solution – fichus.

  13. I … went to Avon to see some great performances. The Barbican, The Globe, watched and collected every Austin – even Austin Land. Austin Land was better. it was like they learned the lines 10 minutes – no had them FED to them off camera. AND THE HAIR!

    You know… I saved this for a day when I needed the lift only Austin could give me. I think I peed myself laughing.

    Only better game in town is BACKSCABBARD!

  14. I hated these costumes so much! It looked like the costumier went to a cheap curtain fabric clearance sale and bought up all the taffetas and sheers and made stuff out of them. Gah.

    1. The thing that stands out to me in that pattern is a big princess seam in the front that extends across the whole bodice, including the faux “zone/cutaway” section. That makes it look modernized, imo.

      1. Hmm, you’re right- I didn’t notice that at first. I wonder if it could be taken out somehow….From the sketches/photo, it looks like it’s mostly on the main bodice – the line drawing looks misleading.

        1. So hard to tell without seeing the actual pattern pieces – maybe open the envelope in the store & look at the pattern diagram? That’s the only way to tell for sure.

  15. This is my process: (1) Watch movie. (2) Have cringy-something’s-not-quite-right-here feelings. (3) Rush to Frock Flicks to see what “the girls” have to say about it. (4) Shout, “Yes! I know! I know!” as feelings stated in point “(2)” are confirmed and new points brought to my attention. (5) Feelings of well-being ensue because of new knowledge and perspectives, as well as the feeling of sartorial solidarity.

  16. When I saw it in theater I asked myself, why the designer had the idea to put the men and women in a different period.

  17. I just watched this wonderful film last weekend, and loved it so much. I enjoyed the way Lady Susan’s costumes went from full mourning to half, and then on, except when she was in London, getting ready to meet her lover, and then she was in RED. So good. Kate Beckinsale was perfect for the role. And Tom Bennett as Sir James Martin- so, so good. Absolutely believably silly and vapid. The American character was a bit jarring, I have to agree with you there, that low, purring American voice in amongst all the crisp British posh accents. I had to come and see what you had to say about it! I just loved it so much, because it made me laugh and laugh, and it’s always fun when the main character is such a horrible person.

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