DAILY FILM DOSE: A Daily Film Appreciation and Review Blog: Bright Star

Wednesday 24 February 2010

Bright Star

Bright Star (2009) dir. Jane Campion
Starring: Ben Wishaw, Abbie Cornish, Paul Schneider


By Alan Bacchus

This dignified costume romance between doomed poet John Keats and his smitten lover Fanny Brawne enraptured most critics, unfortunately dignified or not, it’s also a slow art house slog. Of course, some people find Campion’s frilly lace bonnets blowing in the breeze, and the corset-constrained old world emotions fascinating, but after 118mins it all just seemed mind numbingly repetitive and for lack of a better word, dull.

Abbie Cornish plays Fanny Brawne, a comely young gal, who’s in love with local poet John Keats (Ben Wishaw), who’s completely broke but being supported by his wealthier best friend Mr. Brown (Paul Schneider). Brawne who is a seamstress and fashion clothier is admittedly naive to the 'esotericness' of poetry and asks for his guidance in such literature. Yawn. To Mr. Brown though, Brawne is his Yoko Ono, a meddling presence who gets in the way of Keats’ work and their own manly bonding. To this end Brawne is forced to put up with Brown’s constant belligerence. But romance pushes through and Keats and Brawne go through the stages of courtship and romance.

Meanwhile, as her mother watches the romance bloom, she pushes back against the idea of Fanny marrying an artist without any monetary means whatsoever. No matter though, because, as some of you might know from history, Keats develops a case of tuberculosis resulting in a lengthy, drawn out slow death thus crushing Fanny’s tender heart.

Admittedly the only thing to keep me going through the endless repetitious scenes of longing glances, tender handholding and linen’s swaying with the breeze, was (shamelessly) waiting to see if the two handsome actors would ‘get it on’ on screen. Knowing Campion’s track record with stripping down her actors to complete nudity I thought I, at least, might catch a decent glimpse of Ms. Cornish’s lovely naked skin nuzzling against Mr. Wishaw’s manly body. Nope. The romance remained cinematically unconsummated.

Though we don’t get to see their nude bodies, Cornish and Wishaw are indeed great fresh-faced actors, and especially Wishaw, who was unforgettable as the olfactory killer in ‘Perfume’ and one of the Bob Dylans in ‘He’s Not There’. And here he’s just as magnetic even when he’s playing a boring ol’ romantic TB-diseased poet.

Viewers interested in the fashion of the era might have their interest piqued, as the costumes are given acute attention. Its Oscar nomination is richly deserved and probably should win.

"Bright Star" is available on DVD from TVA Films in Canada


Jesue Valle said...

Even though I disagree with some of your points (I was in love with this film), I admire your shameless honesty.

I find your reviews quite an entertaining read, they're different compared to those written by other film bloggers.

Alan Bacchus said...

Thanks Jekkavlle. Can't like'em all. I admit, I seem to be alone in my assessment of the film. Glad you liked it though. Thanks for reading.