When I first read about a movie being made on Jane Austen’s novel, Lady Susan, which still lies incomplete, it excited me because Austen can always be looked forward to for finding strong and young women, with a very robust identity within the pages of a narrative, and that is pretty scarce to begin with. British actress Kate Beckinsale was cast in it and she is perhaps more widely known for her roles in the Underworld series, which I found very awful but that’s just me – I liked her work in the classic romantic films Pearl Harbor and Serendipity. Kate can really emote hard (and feminine) characters, in spite of her quite defenceless of a persona, so watching her on-screen is personally never an overbearing experience.
In her latest box-office hit, Love & Friendship (based off Austen’s work) Beckinsale plays the protagonist: a young widowed woman called Susan Vernon, who changes her mind about her daughter’s handsome suitor and marries him herself instead in a proper fairytale manner, while leaving her child at the fortunes of another man – someone who openly (and primitively) finds that Susan’s flirtish ways could ring in bad and stormy weathers for his family. Beckinsale finds the character as a woman who could seamlessly fit into the modern age holding a very powerful job – in fact, she describes her as an intelligent lady, with a voracious sexual appetite.
What was intriguing is how Beckinsale perceives that normally women with such lifestyles can’t call back home a happy ending because they probably contract syphilis in the process, and that’s a disease that may even take your life. I think it’s tough to find women with that sensibility, on an equal level to mens’ because if you want to have that kind of a healthy sex equation in your life, it’s important to practice safe sex. And that’s just what Susan does – she has a handful of lovers and she earns money too, so it’s not really a lack of sensibility that acts as a hindrance for Jane Austen’s protagonist, it’s a society where it’s necessary to have a husband to have a voracious sexual appetite; you just cannot be sexually promiscuous and that is the most horrendous form of society in the world – I honestly think cave times were far more modern.
But seriously people like this actually exist in the world as Susan’s society demonstrates, who make faces at you because you aren’t married yet and I don’t really know what to say regarding it, except that maybe they don’t realize what they are doing and how they are actually emphasizing the need for matrimony in a girl’s life, of all things, and just go ahead with it like it’s a sane thing to do. Beckinsale finds it really tough to not warm to a woman like that, like Susan and it’s not surprising why because she actually found the whole acting experience in Love & Friendship remarkably as emancipating.