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Naples Florida - Movie Reviews

'BRIGHT STAR' director Jane Champion has once again created a shining path

Movie Review by Film Critic Marcy Kruchten
PG, 1:59 min.

Set against the breathtakingly beautiful lush countryside of 19th century England, is the true story of the three year secret love affair between poet John Keats and his neighbor, muse, Fanny Brawne. Academy Award winner Jane Champion," The Piano",1993, brings us yet again another hauntingly beautiful, romantic, passionate love affair.

A young 23 year old Keats (Ben Whishaw) is a desperately poor, struggling, just published poet, who cannot contain his growing fascination, admiration and attraction for Fanny (Abbie Cornish). As he teaches her poetry, his admiration turns into tormenting love. His love for Fanny inspires him to write incredibly romantic letters, poems and sonnets. One of his sonnets, 'Bright Star', "one who he dreams of as his shining light", is the inspiration for this film.

In spite of his love for Fanny, her rich widowed mother and his best friend Charles Brown, who he lives with at the time, advise against the union, her mother for reasons of class and his dire financial circumstances and his friend out of jealously, which he describes as a distraction from Keats real work, that of writing. The cinematography, photography and costumes are, however, the real stars of this film. They are simply, visually gorgeous, reminiscent of "The Piano". Such scenes, as a black satin billowing dress while walking thru pure white snow, sheer long curtains blowing thru Fanny's open bedroom window, a red velvet dress against the backdrop of an ancient forest of fallen leaves, Fanny lying in a lavender field, John "dreaming of lips connected to a beautiful figure" while lying on top of the branches of a fully blossomed cherry tree, are simply ravishing. Jane Champion is the master of dark against light, shadows into sun, texture against sleekness, rough nature against the fabrics of silk, satin and velvet, starkness against lushness, in general, a feast for the eyes.

Keats disheveled poor gentleman in contrast to Fanny's uptight subtle restraint of the gentry, makes this romance perfectly chase and yet thru the dialogue of his poetry, sexy at the same time.

As Keats realization of his illness becomes a factor in their relationship, he retreats to sunny Italy, with the financial support of friends, to hopefully cure his tuberculosis, both of which his mother and brother had died from. He never wrote to Fanny again, but continued to chronicle his love for Fanny thru letters to her mother from Italy. Keats writes "if we could live like butterflies, live but three short days, three such days with you I can fill with more delights than 50 common years could ever contain". Keats describes his love for Fanny as "forever panting and forever young".

John Keats is one of the most famous and well read poets of the English Romantic Period. Keats died at the age of twenty five and is buried in Rome.

Bright Star was nominated for a Golden Palm at the 2009 Canne Film Festival and is sure to receive Academy Award nominations for best cinematography and best costumes.

Rating ******** Eight out of ten stars




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