Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Review of Lady Susan

A fun, enjoyable piece of C18th chick-lit, with lots of nicely observed bitchiness; I'm not sure why this isn't part of the regular Jane Austen canon, because it's beautifully written. It took me about ten minutes to get used to the language. I particularly liked the way Austen manages to progress the story without any third person narrator. The epistolary novel may be very dated form, but it seems bang up to date, sharp and contemporary, here. I'm only sorry that she seems to have given up at the end, so that the denouement comes from the perspective of an omniscient third-party narrator. Actually, I'm also sorry that I couldn't work out what was going on with Lucy Manwairing at the end - I can tell that she is humiliated, but I'm not sure exactly how.

Which leads me to another observation - the characters in this seem like C18th versions of us, but they aren't. They are as foreign as women in ancient Athens or contemporary Saudi Arabia, an idle rich 'leisure class' who live off the labour of others and spend their lives managing the consolidation of property through marriages.

Friday, June 03, 2016

Review of 'Love and Friendship'

A bit of a meringue of a film - too sweet and light, not quite sour and sharp enough for the content. It's a movie treatment of a Jane Austen epistolary novel, Lady Susan, not published in the author's lifetime - and recently 'novelised' by the film's writer. The book is bitchily great, and the film isn't quite good enough. It's clear the cast of luvvies had a lot of fun making it, especially the dressing up and the hair and the sets - Kate Beckinsale alone seems to have three different hair artists working on her. Despite this, though, she's just not mean enough - the Lady Susan in the book is really rather darker.

I note in passing that the best friend character has been turned in to an American - she isn't in the book. Haven't we grown out of that yet?

It's watchable enough though, and there are quite a few laughs, and it did persuade me to read the book (free for kindle, unlike the re-novelisation), so not a complete loss.

Watched at the Everyman Cinema in Muswell Hill, in one of the newly refitted screens - a bigger screen than previously, sofa seats with little tables on the arms for drinks and snacks. It's clear where the cinema business model is going.