One of my favorite Internet sites is Catholic World Report. This morning a wonderful essay by Christopher S. Morrissey entitled “Love and Friendship and the Holy Folly of the 12 Commandments.”
Kate Beckinsale’s masterful performance as the charming but amoral Lady Susan Vernon in Whit Stillman’s hilarious Jane Austen adaptation Love & Friendship is a rare cinematic experience. Its memory stays with you long after viewing the film. While Stillman’s screenplay takes its inspiration, and plunders all the best lines, from Austen’s Lady Susan, her epistolary account of Susan, he has suggestively given his own version a title from another piece of Austen’s juvenilia: “Love & Freindship” [sic].
The “friendship” in the title of his film ostensibly refers to the relationship Lady Susan has with her confidant Mrs. Alicia Johnson (played by Chloë Sevigny), the only other soul who really knows her, and with whom she discusses her “love” affairs. These “love” affairs include not just finding a husband, whether for herself or for her daughter, but also adultery.
Aristotle famously defined true friendship as being unlike the lesser “friendships” founded on utility or pleasure. True friendship is the type of friendship that is founded on the mutual pursuit of virtue — which would immediately disqualify the highly refined wickedness shared by Susan and Alicia. The title of the film thus immediately announces an irony with which all the events of the story will be suffused, as Lady Susan expertly uses her charm to simulate virtue in a diabolical way. Her schemes never fail to succeed, thanks to her unmatched ability at gaslighting others.
I love this line: “True friendship is the type of friendship that is founded on the mutual pursuit of virtue.”
I would add this, true friendship for me is founded on the mutual pursuit of ever-deeper conversion to faith in Jesus Christ so we encourage each other on the journey to holiness, pray for each other and help each other remove any obstacles to grace, any bondage to sin.