4 out of 5 stars
Period dramas, Jane Austen and Kate Beckinsale all figure quite highly in my list of things that I am not a fan of. And after suffering through the dismal Damsel in Distress, I have also added Whit Stillman to that list. So imagine my surprise when I buckle down to watch Stillman’s adaptation of Austen’s Lady Susan after being cajoled by the trifactor of Kermode, Coleman (aka geekette) and Smullen, and found myself thoroughly enjoying it. The over-articulate and fancy dialogue and whimsical stylings of Whitman which made Damsel not only impenetrable but downright irritating, fit perfectly in Austen’s world of romantic entanglements and subterfuge. The wickedly funny and subversive script is so entertaining and satisfying, not even the somewhat predictable resolution in the third act could dampen one’s enthusiasm for the film. The British cast is all round excellent with Beckinsale proving she can act and carry a film without a tight leather outfit while Tom Bennett stole every scene he is in with his laugh-out-loud buffoonery. Who would have thought this would turn out to be one of the happier surprises of 2016!