Review: Bright Star

Bright Star | Jane Campion, 2009

I first heard about this movie when it was announced as part of the Cannes Film Festival competition line-up. I had heard of John Keats and knew a bit about his story, but I had not read any of his work, and to this day I haven’t. I decide it to watch it based on the fact that the people who liked it, loved it. So, as time went by and it didn’t reach a theater near me, my anticipation grew and grew, and now that I finally watched it, I could not help but feel a little bit underwhelmed by it.

The story is simple: Fanny Brawne (Abbie Cornish) is a fashionable and strong willed woman who falls for poet John Keats (Ben Whinshaw). As the movie progresses, we see the love they have for each other grow. However, as expected, her mom sort of opposes to it because he has no money, and his best friend (Paul Schneider) doesn’t want him to lose his freedom by getting married.

The movie is not so much about the story, but about the journey. If you know anything about John Keats, then you already know that he dies in the end. Knowing that, all we have left to do is to enjoy the relationship go along for the ride so that in the end we feel what they characters feel. This is where the movie fails. By the end, I felt for Fanny, but I didn’t feel emotionally invested with the story.  Besides that, everything is excellent.

Jane Campion’s direction, though far from the best of the year, is excellent and makes the time period come to life, with the help of her production crew of course. The sets and Oscar-nominated costumes by Jane Patterson are the best of the year. Meanwhile, the cinematography is breathtaking. The score, although very short, is quite pleasing to the ears.

As for the performances, they are uniformly good with Cornish and Schneider being the stand outs. Winshaw is good at being romantic and sick, but he had not much else to do.

Bright Star is not a bad movie, but it is not quite what some people made it out to be. I am looking forward to watching the movie again and see if I have a different oppinion.

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