It took a far-too-long fifteen years for Whit Stillman to follow up 1998’s “The Last Days of Disco” with 2012’s whimsical “Damsels In Distress” (which hit the festival circuit in 2011). But thankfully, we won’t be waiting another decade for the director to make his next picture. He’s always been rather low profile, so it’s not much of a surprise his next project is quietly starting to get pulled together, but we’ve got a few details on what it’s all about.
Yesterday, the New York Post reported that Stillman had hit Manhattan to start casting on this next movie, which he teased thusly: “It’s based on a funny but obscure late 18th-century work that reads a bit like an Oscar Wilde play.” But according to sources close to the production, that 18th century work is actually Jane Austen‘s little known and perhaps less celebrated “Lady Susan,” and it will be adapted into a film currently titled “Love And Friendship.”
Sharper and sexier than the Austen you might know, and perhaps more in line with the works of Oscar Wilde, the story follows a widowed woman trying to find a husband for herself and her daughter. In a break from other books of the time, Lady Susan is active in pursuit of a new beau, and yet has a relationship to a married man as well. Of course, how Stillman puts this basic premise through his own filter remains to be seen, but it’s intriguing material nonetheless and something we could see him having great fun with.
And this isn’t the first time Stillman has attempted to bring Austen to the big screen. Back in 2003, Variety reported he was working with British producer Stephen Evans (“Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind,” “The Madness Of King George“) on a movie that would merge Austen’s unfinished novels, “The Watsons” and “Sanditon,” into a single movie called “Winchester Races” by crossing over characters from each. Clearly, that project never happened, but Stillman is still aiming to get smaller Austen entries up on the big screen.
It’s not clear if financing is in place—THR reported earlier this year that he was at Cannes taking meetings—but perhaps there’s enough movement that he can start lining up a potential cast. “There are a number of good star parts,” he told the post, adding that he’s aiming to shoot in Britain and Ireland.
Hopefully, more details will be coming soon.