Few explore the venomous contemporary culture of society's elite better than Whit Stillman, but the film he's most closely associated with is The Last Days of Disco, an '80s-set drama enlivened by the performances of Chloe Sevigny and Kate Beckinsale. It took nearly two decades but he's finally reunited with them for Love & Friendship, and it's another period piece, only this one is set firmly in the era of Jane Austen.
Based on Austen's unfinished novella, "Lady Susan", the film stars Beckinsale as a flirtatious widow looking for a big payoff with her next husband. This trailer suggests another lethal combination of humor and commentary, with Beckinsale and Sevigny playing off one another beautifully. Here's the synopsis:
Set in the opulent drawing rooms of eighteenth-century English society, Love & Friendship focuses on the machinations of a beautiful widow, Lady Susan Vernon (Kate Beckinsale), who, while waiting for social chatter about a personal indiscretion to pass, takes up temporary residence at her in-laws’ estate. While there, the intelligent, flirtatious, and amusingly egotistical Lady Vernon is determined to be a matchmaker for her daughter Frederica—and herself too, naturally. She enlists the assistance of her old friend Alicia (Chloë Sevigny), but two particularly handsome suitors (Xavier Samuel and Tom Bennett) complicate her orchestrations.
Love & Friendship opens May 13th, and check out the upcoming Criterion set of Stillman's greatest films.