I’m sorry but I’m not all that keen on seeing Whit Stillman‘s Love and Friendship. And I’m saying this as a Stillman fan from way back. From the moment I heard it would play Sundance ’16 I was thinking “I’m not sure I even want to stream this, much less catch it theatrically.” I ducked it, needless to add. I want Stillman to make another Barcelona or…you know, another here-and-now piece about louche, moderately well-off 30somethings (or 40somethings) kicking around in some hip urban environment and trying to attain whatever. Jane Austen adaptations…later.

The Sundance Rotten Tomato reaction was uniformly positive, but I heard a couple of meh-level assessments. Maybe I was hearing what I wanted to hear.

From Todd McCarthy’s Sundance review: “No matter who’s around, Kate Bekinsale‘s Lady Susan does most of the talking, issuing incisive views on everything in quasi-Wildean turns of phrase well ahead of their time, interrupting whenever the turn of a discussion doesn’t suit her and prone to making both self-serving remarks as well as blunt assessments of her own reduced status that are surprising in their frankness. She’s an Olympian talker, and one sometimes wishes there was someone else who could dish back at her as well as she gives. There aren’t great depths to the role, but Beckinsale excels with the long speeches and in defining her character as a very self-aware egoist.

“At a certain point, Lady Susan decides she’s exceeded her welcome in the country and takes up residence in London, where the stars’ alignment begins to change in ways that she believes she can manipulate to the benefit of herself and her daughter (Morfydd Clark). At this stage, one awaits the little emotional depth charge that normally accompanies the denouement of an Austen piece when the people who should end up together almost invariably do so. But it doesn’t come, which might be what costs the film commercially with audiences normally responsive to this sort of high-toned but entirely accessible piece.”