Directed by: Jane Campion
Premise: A dramatization of the relationship between Romantic poet John Keats (Ben Wishaw) and Fanny Brawne (Abbie Cornish).
What Works: The trouble with a lot of period dramas is that they tend to get very stuffy and overly sentimental, but Bright Star avoids this, keeping the characters real and staging the romance in such a way that conveys the growing passion between the young lovers. Bright Star is primarily Fanny Brawne’s story and actress Abbie Cornish does a nice job with the part. The character is a romantic but she’s not hopeless and there is a reality to Cornish’s performance and to the film’s approach to the subject that gives the emotions of the story a sense of authenticity. Bright Star also picks up on the struggle of poets and connects their work and the agenda of the Romantic movement to larger cultural forces, especially class issues, and the film nicely unifies Keats’ literary work with his romance with Brawne.
What Doesn’t: If Bright Star is lacking anything, it is a sense of urgency. The movie is shot and paced a bit like a Romantic poem and although it is overall a tightly constructed film, it does get a little self-indulgent.
DVD extras: Deleted scene, featurettes, trailers.
Bottom Line: Bright Star will be of interest to those who like period dramas or have an interest in John Keats or poets of the Romantic era. It’s no major breakthrough but it is a well-made picture.
Episode: #279 (March 7, 2010)