Bright Star Reviews
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.