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Jane Campion's Bright Star Movie Review 2009-09-16 14:30:43

Bright Star: A Vibrant Love Story

I remember reading the poet John Keats's work as a college student, and I very specifically recall the page-long description of his life. Two facts dominate his bio: that he died young and that he fell in love with the girl next door, Fanny Brawne. It was obvious that a romantic love story existed in that bare-bones text — and filmmaker Jane Campion has brought it to life in Bright Star.

Campion's film is the gorgeous and tragic story of Keats and Brawne. She doesn't merely set her movie in the early 1800s England and leave it there, she gives you an appreciation for a time when literature was exalted and marriage was a financial transaction.

To hear what I thought about the film, just


While the Internet provides access to every medium of entertainment, hearing the characters' fervor and esteem for poetry made me fantasize about living in this quieter era. Helping my cause are the swoon-worthy ways that lovers had to express their devotion while still remaining chaste. Though their love goes unconsummated, they achieve an even higher level of intimacy. One of his best poems is written for and about her — the "bright star" of the film's title.


As leading man John Keats, Ben Whishaw jettisons memories of his handful of supporting character credits (and one unsettling lead role). His character is sensitive and introspective to a fault, but Whishaw delivers a sexy, captivating performance.

The force that really carries the movie is Abbie Cornish's portrayal of Fanny Brawne; the film belongs to her and her emotional portrayal of the girl left behind. She makes you feel every stage of her involvement with Keats, from crush to infatuation to heartbreak when she fears she's been forgotten — and finally, to devastation when she loses her beloved to death. It's almost unbelievable that Brawne was supposed to have been seen as a silly girl only interested in fashion and flirting, because Cornish plays her so earnestly and with so much depth.

Finally, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Paul Schneider and his portrayal of Keats's best friend, curmudgeonly fellow writer Charles Armitage Brown. I've been anxious to see Schneider in a meatier role since All the Real Girls — while he's cute in things like Parks and Recreation, he gets to shine as an actor in Bright Star. A full-on Scottish brogue isn't the only thing that Schneider uses to distance himself from his lighter work; he's charmingly loathsome as Brown, picking apart Fanny's every move. But when Keats's health is threatened, Brown's love for his friend overcomes his hard exterior to as he nurses Keats day and night.

Even if history couldn't do the same for Keats and Brawne, the love in Bright Star, platonic or romantic, lifts you up.

Join The Conversation
Lorelei-LeFae Lorelei-LeFae 7 years
Looks fantastic! I can't wait to see it. :)
blondie829 blondie829 7 years
ohhh i hope this movie is showing near me!!!
CiaoBella2 CiaoBella2 7 years
Looking forward to seeing this lovely movie.
Nitachequita Nitachequita 7 years
Paul Schneider was the best thing about this movie, by far. He was fantastic and outshone the other actors. I personally don't understand all the buzz over Abbie Cornish's performance. She alternated between zero facial expressions, and hystrionic crying; there is such a thing as subtle sorrow.
bengalspice bengalspice 7 years
I got to see it the other night at an advance screening. I laughed at the people who didn't realized Keats was a real person, and that the movie was made because of the real-life love story and tragedy of his death. Someone actually sobbed out loud when the screen went black at the end.
treb treb 7 years
Paul Schneider has been my movie boyfriend since All The Real Girls. There's something about him...
leslievanhouten leslievanhouten 7 years
wait, Keats dies?!?! Spoiler!
penguins268 penguins268 7 years
I really want to see this but I'll have to wait until it comes out on DVD because it won't come to my hodunk town.
supertramp supertramp 7 years
I'd really like to see this film.
myfairlady93 myfairlady93 7 years
I have been so excited for this film for the past few months. I can't wait to see it!
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