Bright Star, directed by Oscar nominee Jane Campion, is a deeply romantic, visually spectacular film that is stunning in its simplicity. Focusing on the little-known relationship between Romantic poet John Keats and Fanny Brawne, the love of his short life, Bright Star shines brighter than any other film this year.
The film could easily have been a dull episode of Masterpiece Theatre or an overwrought melodrama, but with Campion at the helm, the entire affair remains naturalistic and engrossing. The plot is akin to a Jane Austen novel, except for the tragic ending, as Keats’ premature death is the underlying current throughout the film.
Abbie Cornish’s beautifully understated performance as Fanny makes it clear to see how she served as the inspiration for Keats’ poetry. He, a penniless writer portrayed by Ben Whishaw, falls madly in love with his muse, and their love, though never consummated, is as passionate and visceral as any. Whishaw makes Keats’ poems sound dangerous and outrageously sexy. This is Regency-era love at its most vital and visceral. Both performances are full of vivacity and overwhelming elegance, and if there is any justice, this film will make Cornish a star.
Campion is a brilliant director, and she has managed to truly capture human idiosyncrasy. Exploring the illogical, irrational minds of two passionately in love young adults, she makes the passion and the sadness intensely palpable. Everything about Bright Star is stunning. Campion crafted a timeless romance that will engross and affect all those who watch it.
Rating: 4/4 stars
Starring: Abbie Cornish, Ben Whishaw
Directed By: Jane Campion
MPAA Rating: PG