American indie cinema is a rich kid's business, which has never been more evident than in Whit Stillman's modern Restoration comedies (Metropolitan, Barcelona). Unwilling to break past his narrow social parameters, Stillman instead leaps back into the distant past with this adaptation of Jane Austen's epistolary novella Lady Susan, written in the 1790s. Kate Beckinsale gives a nimble performance as Susan Vernon, a widowed 18th-century noblewoman, who arrives at her in-laws' estate amid rumors of her impropriety and sets out to find husbands for herself and her daughter. The movie is more caustic and less romantic than the Austen adaptations that have connected at the box office, and the result is intelligent, nuanced, literate, and dismally dry; there's little of the juice that Stillman brought to his earlier films as a chronicler of his own times. With Morfydd Clark, Chloë Sevigny, and Stephen Fry.
Director: Whit Stillman
Producer: Katie Holly, Lauranne Bourrachot and Whit Stillman
Cast: Kate Beckinsale, Xavier Samuel, Morfydd Clark, Emma Greenwell, Tom Bennett, James Fleet, Jemma Redgrave, Justin Edwards, Jenn Murray, Stephen Fry and Chloë Sevigny