Based on the Jane Austen novella ‘Lady Susan’ and set in the 1790s, earlier than most Austen tales, Whit Stillman’s exquisite comedy of matchmaking and heart-breaking Love & Friendship concerns beautiful young widow Lady Susan Vernon (Kate Beckinsale). The deliciously scheming and manipulative Lady Susan has come to Churchill, the estate of her in-laws, to wait out the colourful rumours about her dalliances circulating through polite society.
Whilst ensconced there, she decides to secure a husband for herself and for her eligible but reluctant school-girl daughter Frederica (Morfydd Clark).
The waters are troubled by the arrival at Churchill of the handsome, eligible Reginald DeCourcy (Xavier Samuel) and silly but cheerful - and very rich - Sir James Martin (Tom Bennett).
Chloe Sevigny, who starred with Beckinsale in Whit Stillman's The Last Days of Disco (1998) plays Lady Susan’s friend and confidante Alicia Johnson, with Stephen Fry as her husband, the "very respectable" Mr. Johnson.
Whit Stillman's first film, Metropolitan, debuted at the 1990 Sundance Film Festival and went on to win a number of awards as well as an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay.
Stillman started out in film working in the Spanish film industry as the foreign sales agent for Spanish directors including Fernando Colomo and Fernando Trueba, then played comic roles in their films as well as helping on the New York shoot of Fernando Colomo's micro budget hit, Skyline (1983).
He graduated with a history degree from Harvard where he was an editor of the Harvard Crimson; there he also sought to write musical comedy scripts for the Hasty Pudding Theatricals but considers Damsels in Distress (2012) the realisation of that frustrated aspiration.
After Harvard, Stillman worked in book publishing and journalism, as well as managing an illustration agency representing artist such as Sempe and Pierre Le-Tan (who has created posters for his films). Following Metropolitan, Stillman made three films for Rob Reiner's Castle Rock Entertainment; Barcelona (1994; Independent Spirit Award for Best Cinematography), The Last Days of Disco (1998) with Kate Beckinsale and Chloe Sevigny, and finally Damsels with Greta Gerwig.
There was a dozen-year gap in Stillman's filmography when he moved to Europe and sought to set film projects up out of London. The script for Love & Friendship is a product of this period and he hopes there will be more.
In 2014, Stillman wrote and directed the pilot episode of dramatic comedy The Cosmopolitans for Amazon Studios, starring Adam Brody and Chloe Sevigny; Amazon has commissioned further scripts for the series.
Stillman's debut novel, ‘The Last Days of Disco, with Cocktails at Petrossian Afterward’, was a San Francisco Chronicle bestseller and won the 2014 Prix Fitzgerald in France. His novel version of the current film will be published as ‘Love & Friendship, In Which Jane Austen's Lady Susan Vernon Is Entirely Vindicated’ by John Murray in England (Jane Austen's publishers) and Little Brown in the United States.
Stillman has written for the Wall Street Journal, Harper’s, The Guardian and Vogue, among other publications.
Kate Beckinsale: Lady Susan Vernon Martin
Chloe Sevigny: Alicia Johnson
Xavier Samuel: Reginald DeCourcy
Emma Greenwell: Catherine Vernon
Justin Edwards: Charles Vernon
Tom Bennett: Sir James Martin
Morfydd Clark: Frederica Vernon
Jemma Redgrave: Lady DeCourcy
James Fleet: Sir Reginald DeCourcy
Jenn Murray: Lady Lucy Manwaring
Stephen Fry: Mr. Johnson
Whit Stillman: Writer / director / producer
Jane Austen: Author
Katie Holly: Producer
Richard Van Oosterhout: Director of Photography
Mark Suozzo: Musical Direction
Benjamin Esdraffo: Composer
Sophie Corra: Editor
Anna Rackard: Production Designer
Eimer Ni Mhaoldomhnaigh: Costume Designer
Lynn Johnson: Makeup Designer
Eileen Buggy: Hair Designer
Based on Jane Austen’s unfinished novella 'Lady Susan'
Production year: 2016
Production credits: A Westerly Films, Blinder Films, Chic Films Production, in co-production with Revolver Amsterdam & Arte France Cinema, in association with Protagonist Pictures, Soficinema 11 & Cinemage 10 & the Netherlands Film Fund & with the participation of Bord Scannán na hÉireann/Irish Film Board
2016 Gotham Awards nominee for Best Actress - Kate Beckinsale
2016 Gotham Awards nominee for Best Screenplay - Whit Stillman
Winner of British / Irish Actress of the Year at 2017 London Critics' Circle Awards - Kate Beckinsale
Winner of Supporting Actor of the Year at 2017 London Critics' Circle Awards - Tom Bennett
2016 Evening Standard Film Awards nominee for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor