Bright Star Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ November 7, 2009
One of the most underrated films of 2009, brilliantly directed, gorgeously photographed and wonderfully acted. Left me a little speechless at the end. Look out for Ben Wishaw's reading at the end of the credits-just a brilliant delivery and a wonderful voice! Wonderful performances by Abbie Cornish and Ben Wishaw.Look out for Ben Wishaw's reading at the end of the credits-just a brilliant delivery and a wonderful voice!

Highly recommended
Super Reviewer
August 12, 2010
Ever wish the fictitious on-screen couple in a movie would fall apart so you could get some action with the leading lady? Yeah, neither have I. Save that for people who get emotionally involved in movies. That's not to say her character didn't make me hot in all those tailored 1800s outfits. Mmmm, girl.

I'd watch it again. Even though the second half was, at times, almost unbearably sad. Something tells me I'll be on the lookout for more films featuring either Ben Whishaw or Abbie Cornish. After I watched "I'm Not There," I was patiently waiting another film with Ben Whishaw in it. Lo and behold, here's one.

Better yet, my mom rented this movie and lent it to me. My mom NEVER rents excellent movies. Without my guidance. Total mindfuck.
Super Reviewer
November 13, 2009
Super Reviewer
½ June 12, 2010
A mostly genteel and restrained love story between poet John Keats and Fanny Brawne, with very solid performances by Abbie Cornish, Paul Schneider and Ben Whishaw. Also, there is one cathartic scene by the end of the film that really made me shed a couple of tears.
Super Reviewer
½ February 11, 2009
"First Love Burns Brightest"

The drama based on the three-year romance between 19th century poet John Keats and Fanny Brawne, which was cut short by Keats' untimely death at age 25.

The two leads, Aussie actress Abbie Cornish and British chap Ben Whishaw, are brilliant. No two ways about it; unequivocally brilliant. Their chemistry is undeniable and serves this picture with a spark so often missing, due to the focus on lavish costumes and sets, from period pieces. Whether they're gazing into each other's eyes or discussing his poetry over a walk through the forest, the starring duo are a clear match on screen. Cornish proves she is capable of breaking into the big time with an award-worthy turn as Fanny; on the outside she may seem straightforward and tough but internally she is fragile and love struck. As the 19th century poet, Whishaw allows Keats to adopt the subtler and less-showier part of the couple, yet manages to elicit enormous emotion with his soulful eyes and whimsical body language.

Jane Campion is obviously in love with her subject matter. Her direction shows a distinct admiration for the young poet and this subsequently seeps through the screen onto the audience, ensuring we too feel the way she does. Alas Campion's adorations drags along some faults as well. Most notably her screenplay is too cyclic; a few times we get the same scene twice or thrice over, just presented in a different way. Thankfully the powerhouse acting and perfect cinematography ? Greig Fraser's sun bathed palate early on and rain drenched landscape in the later scenes matches the film's emotion flawlessly - steer your thoughts away from the repetitive and slightly weak story of Keats.

There is no denying there are a number of classic scenes throughout. You will feel your heart racing during an argument between Keats and Brown ? played superbly by Paul Schneider, who may be overshadowed by the youthful leading stars, but gives his supporting character a demanding charisma - which sees the two friends argue over Fanny's intentions and morals, all the while she is standing right there. And the lovers' first kiss is especially moving, not the least because it is followed immediately by a playful segment where the new couple indulge Fanny's younger sister in a game of "freeze". With countless other moments just as entertaining and gripping, Bright Star allows you to forgive and forget any errors it may make and unashamedly delivers a desperately romantic movie that will stick with you well after the end credits roll.
Super Reviewer
March 21, 2010
Cornish is electric and beautiful set pieces compliment the dreamy atmosphere punctuated by the harsh realities of the time. The leads' obsessive love is totally believable and Schneider forms a spiky counterpoint. Visually arresting throughout, it is composed like a poem.
Super Reviewer
March 3, 2010
Dullsville. It's a movie that tries to illuminate poetry in a pretentious and not entirely accurate way. What's with Thomas Sangster's role? He's just scenery. I have to give props to Abbie Cornish though for being brave enough to cry extremely unattractively. Ben Whishaw is pretty dreamy.
Super Reviewer
½ February 27, 2010
Very slow moving, and at 2 hours long, did outstay it's welcome with me. It's a shame because the acting is all very good and the costumes are beautiful. I can not figure out why I did not feel moved by this film. I am not, generally, really into period films, but I have enjoyed some where the story has been good. The story is not bad in this, it just doesn't quite work.
Super Reviewer
½ November 24, 2009
Simply breathtaking. Bright Star is one of those films that is completely enrapturing and enthralling, makes you feel so much, apparently without even trying. Visually it is an incredibly artistic and beautiful film. Generally, I am not all that fond of these historical romances and dramas only because it all seems so posed. No matter how good the acting is, you do not feel like the characters actually speak in that way, and a lot of times the actors just seem awkward in their costumes. It just does not feel real at all. Bright Star manages to pull this off brilliantly. The dialog, costumes, locations, etc, all seem natural. For that alone the film deserves praise. Top that with fine acting, great story, and bucketloads of emotion, and you really have a masterpiece on your hands.
Super Reviewer
½ July 16, 2009
A beautiful film, Abbie Cornish is remarkable.
Super Reviewer
November 7, 2009
I find it hard to talk about this one without it bringing a lump to my throat.
This kind of achingly beautiful and unashamedly romantic tale is deeply unfashionable now and it's such a crying shame. Campion has surely bested herself here with this subtle and divinely lyrical love poem - so making 'The Piano' feel almost like galumphing over-ripe melodrama in comparison.
I'm sure that much of today's impatient audience will be snoring into their popcorn at Campion's leisurely and smoldering drip drip pace. And the long scene's of poetry reading (it's no mean feat to read poetry with emotional conviction so Whishaw and Cornish should be cherished for sure), the quiet and often silent moments heavy with bated breath and the melancholy longueurs of love unrequited will sorely test the patience of many.
But us hopeless romantics will (quietly) cheer and find rich rewards. Bright Star has a precious, almost nameless, quality that will linger in your heart and consciousness long after it's utterly sublime credit sequence has faded and I really do pity those that don't fall under its mesmerising spell.
Super Reviewer
October 30, 2009
There are times in life when love simply takes over. It takes over logic and reason. It supersedes any sort of common sense or social stature. And there are times in cinema when the portrayal of such romance goes off without a hitch. And Bright Star is one of those instances.

The tale of Victorian poet John Keats and his lover Fanny Brawne may not be exactly that of Romeo and Juliet; but its merit as a heartbreaking love affair is no less poignant because of its relative obscurity to modern-day audiences. The love that touches both of these real-life characters seeps from the page of the script onto the celluloid that we see flickering in the movie theater and into our own consciousness like an arrow through the heart.

In an age where social status and cold civility (if not sterility) was the norm, the lovers Keats and Brawne meet as next-door neighbors. John Keats is a renowned, albeit penniless poet who has just released a new book of verse. Fanny Brawne is a feisty, progressive lover of fashion and design who is independent of her own gilded cage and her social station--however more elevated from Keats's it may seem to be.

So, already we get a sense of the stars being crossed as these lovers begin to position their burgeoning feelings for one another on their constellation of hope. The world continues to revolve around them as if they themselves were the star hanging in space and their love were the flame that threatened to make that star die off in supernova.

A tale of the plight of love that's too far ahead of its time, Bright Star is filled to the brim with fanciful (yet never pretentious) acting and dialogue that is both beautiful and romantic. The film, by the very nature of its subject matter and the fateful events that transpire, borders on melodrama; but it never dials in the sorrowful violins as a manipulative method to extract tears. It does so in a genuine fashion that is both universal and heartbreaking.

In the midst of a brilliant film with a brilliant cast, costumes and a cacophony of credibility for its depiction of an era long gone shines Abby Cornish. The actress playing one half of this ill-fated duo is a revelation and a joy to watch. Her skill as as a subtle interpreter of grace and petulant feminism is in full display and virtually eclipses all performances in the film. She burns into the back of your mind the way that our dying, bright star called the Sun does when you look directly at it. It's no wonder why the film's namesake poem (a Keats composition) was written about Fanny Brawne. And the title is an appropriate adjective for Ms. Cornish herself.
Super Reviewer
October 18, 2009
A very strong period piece. One of the years most elegant films.
Super Reviewer
October 15, 2009
A 19th-century seamstress falls in love with sickly John Keats, a dreamboat who writes poetry on the side. About what you would expect from a Campion historical weeper: well-made and very pretty, with no surprises. Warning to guys: sensitive poets take a LONG time to die from consumption.
Bill D 2007
Super Reviewer
October 14, 2009
"Bright Star" is a gorgeous, intelligent film about love with a breakthrough performance from Abbie Cornish at its center. It is another triumph for director Jane Campion, who brings early-19th-century England to life in a way that is so potent and physical you can almost smell and feel what the characters are experiencing. The art direction and costumes are truly astonishing. This film is not so much to be watched as experienced with all the senses.

The only problem is that it is a bit long and repetitious. Once again a director weakens his or her own work of genius by refusing to cut any scenes. What is it going to take for present-day directors to learn to appreciate editing?! It is quite maddening. But luckily the strengths of "Bright Star" are so tremendous that even a bit of bloat cannot ruin it.
Super Reviewer
October 11, 2009
As steeped in the seasons as nature itself, Jane Campion‚??s ‚??Bright Star‚?? swirls lyrical poetry about its body like a fine cloak. Sixteen years have passed since Campion‚??s globally praised film ‚??The Piano‚?? achieved Oscar glory, and she has grown up in the intervening years. While ‚??Bright Star‚?? shares the free spirit and raw passion of its predecessor, ‚??Star‚?? is softer, livelier and infinitely more dazzling.

Combining period film with a pinch of biopic, ‚??Bright Star‚?? tells the tale of poet John Keats‚??s (Ben Whishaw, ‚??Brideshead Revisited‚??) three-year romance with fashion seamstress Fanny Brawne (Abbie Cornish, ‚??Stop-Loss‚??) until his untimely death at 25.

With prim, sexless demeanors, period films have a tendency to distance audiences. But the great thing about ‚??Bright Star‚?? is that it‚??s relatable. The relationship between Keats and Brawne could have been pulled out of the pages of any college romance. It's full of awkwardness, mixed signals and anxiety. Sex is portrayed straightforwardly, not as taboo. Normally, a huge scandal erupts if a character even deigns to kiss the other, but a scene where Fanny offers herself to Keats proves shockingly sensational for the film‚??s PG rating.

Campion has made a living exploring feminist motivations in her films, and ‚??Bright Star‚?? continues this trend. But beneath its wild core, the film evokes a certain tenderness. Fanny is undoubtedly a strong individual who speaks her mind and does whatever she wants, but she‚??s also a human being with the capacity to feel, love and give.

‚??Bright Star‚?? is a film as attentive to appearance as it is to narrative. Campion seamlessly strings together a lush orchestral score, shimmering cinematography and stunning costume design to bring 19th-century England to life. Butterflies illuminate the bedroom, flowers wreath the reclined bodies and kisses melt on top of each other. The frocks have flounce and ruffles and bright overlays. Delicate choir strains ornament the expressive poetry of Keats. It looks, feels and breathes romanticism.

As far as acting goes, Cornish proves that she is more than the homewrecker who broke apart the marriage of Ryan Phillipe and Reese Witherspoon. She plays Fanny Brawne to understated precision, her vain and flirtacious nature evolving into something deeper as the film goes on. In a scene near the film's end, her perfectly coiffed restraint is punctured by the suddenness of Keats‚??s death. She begins to ascend the stairs, then halts. Her hands start trembling ‚?? she can‚??t control them as she breaks out into broken sobs. She sinks to the floor, hands still in disarray, and lets out a raw cry: ‚??Mama, I can‚??t breathe!‚?? It's a picture of sublime emotion.

While the film is really all about Fanny, Whishaw provides an able supporting role as the sickly, moody John Keats, struggling not only to find inspiration for his poems, but also to dig up the financial means to support Fanny. It‚??s difficult to play a dying character without coming off as contrived, but Whishaw displays just the right amount of patheticism and pitifulness to pull it off. The chemistry between these two is undeniable, and, despite the confines of society at the time, a surprisingly sizzling romance develops.

‚??Bright Star‚?? is a heartbreaking love story of magnetic proportions, just barely letting go of the reigns of starched decency to create one of the freshest explorations of female sexuality in a long time. It is a film about living, loving and breathing in beauty ‚?? a splendor that is experienced with all five senses, embracing the spirit of Keats‚??s sensuous poetry.
Super Reviewer
March 28, 2011
"Bright Star" is a beautifully made film and I suppose it's true to the romantic spirit of John Keats' poetry, but the script's drippy, melodramatic qualities produce quite a few eyerolls. And then, as if to apologize for all the overwrought tears and chest-heaving elsewhere, there is Keats' best friend Charles Armitage Brown, who's such an amazing jerk that his close relationship with Keats seems wholly implausible. Paul Schneider is fine in the role -- I never would have guessed he is American -- but his part is just grossly one-dimensional.

If you're looking for a Jane Campion film about a vulnerable writer, you're much better off reaching for "An Angel at My Table."
Super Reviewer
½ April 5, 2010
One of the year's best romances comes in the form of Jane Campion's Bright Star, the (slightly embellished) true story of famous Romantic poet John Keats and amateur fashionista and local girl Fanny Brawne (played by Ben Whishaw & Abbie Cornish), whose romance - which becomes a poem unto itself - dangles on the edge of unrequited. It's a cleanly-paced period piece / costume romance that has a lyrical quality to it, portraying a love that's almost childlike in manner; that's disarmingly honest and organically evolving. The story follows a simple, healthy path, as we only truly meet Keats and Brawne, and save for Keats' poet pal, Mr. Brown, there is no overindulging of secondary characters. Cornish plays Fanny as headstrong but caring and unusually thoughtful - she has an intelligent charm to her that makes her very alluringly ladylike, and Cornish has rightly earned praise for her performance. But a man who needs more admiration is Ben Whishaw (who also gave a vastly underrated performance in Perfume: The Story of a Murderer). Whishaw gives Keats a convincing quiet whimsy, which is important to liking his character, who is otherwise an unrecognized talent and absolutely penniless. Both leads are quite remarkable in this film, and you can see each feeding off each other's understated energy and curiosity quite believably, each enchanting the other's heart. In fact, I'm glad we can see an on-screen romance that leverages silence as a strength, sometimes enhanced with a well-timed corps of violins as their stares transform into longing gazes.

The forces against them are characteristic of this era: love against the propriety of marrying into good financial standing, with token disapproval from Fanny's family, while Keats goes on sojourns of seclusion to hone his poetry. This drama isn't searing or spiked, but honest and undressed; a calm representation of restlessness and heartache, as though it's just as real as sewing or doing the dishes. And as their romance blossoms, Keats' poetry crystallizes. However, if you've read anything about the life of John Keats, you know that there isn't a whole lot of happy that awaits the viewer. Nevertheless, the film is a resonating balance of the discreet drama and the silent romance, and the stirring fate it quietly strides toward. As Keats would say, this film needs a brighter word than bright to describe its place in the pantheon of movie romances.
Super Reviewer
October 4, 2009
Written and directed by Jane Campion, "Bright Star" is an exquisite, witty and well-acted movie about the passionate romance between Fanny Brawne(Abbie Cornish) and poet John Keats(Ben Whishaw), starting in 1818. After meeting Keats, Fanny buys a volume of his poetry, Endymion, to get a sense of him but cannot fully grasp it. Keats' best friend, Charles Armitage Brown(Paul Schneider), does not think she is capable of understanding it but Keats respectfully disagrees. In response, Fanny points out that at least her sewing can earn her money, compared to writing poetry. At least, Keats can count upon his friend for financial support. Money also comes between Fanny and Keats because he is so impoverished that he cannot afford to marry her and legitimize their relationship which would stop any gossip. Almost two hundred years later, nothing has changed as the majority of writers make little to nothing. The irony is that writers who in their own lifetime did not achieve success may only achieve it afterwards, as did Keats, and those popular during their lifetimes may be forgotten in the years to come.

What "Bright Star" succeeds at doing is getting to the heart of poetry through its own visual poetry. Through Fanny, Keats learns how to love and that's what his poetry describes. Now what poetry does better than any other artform is to get right to the heart of the matter. The movie is set at a time when it was not unusual for people to die young and two deaths hang over the early part of the film, Fanny's father, long departed, and Keats' brother Tom(Olly Alexander) who is on his deathbed. That's not to mention that at the start of the movie, it has only been three years since the last war. So with time so precious, it is best to get right to the chase.
Super Reviewer
October 3, 2009
Pulling off what would seem impossible, Jane Campion has made a swooningly romantic film that is both lush and austere about the poet John Keats and his true love Fanny Brawne. It is also both pristinely period and yet completely modern - this is due to the accessibly pitch-perfect acting from her central trio and their commitment to simply getting to the heart of things with no fuss. It is a slow affair, no question, and the romance in question has maybe four kisses in the course of two hours, but every frame of this film is awash in beauty and it is very hard not to get swept up by it. And Abbie Cornish is absolutely breathtaking. So there.
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