.

Bright Star

Abbie Cornish, Ben Whishaw, Paul Schneider

Directed by Jane Campion
Rolling Stone: star rating
5 3
Community: star rating
5 3 0
September 17, 2009

What do you say about a 25-year-old British poet who died? If you're Jane Campion and the poet is John Keats, you can go with thelove letters Keats (Ben Whishaw) wrote to Fanny Brawne (Abbie Cornish) before consumption ended his life in Italy in 1821. But Campion, in films as diverse as The Piano and In the Cut, has always been intrigued by the space that time, class and culture puts between lovers and the feelings they can't articulate. And so Bright Star is the New Zealand writer-director's raw, sensual attempt to render Keats as experienced by a young girl who couldn't understand the genius of his verse.

It workslike a charm. The rigidity of life in Hampstead, where Fanny and her family live next door to the penniless Keats and his mentor, Mr. Brown (Paul Schneider), only amps the intensity of the emotions thwarted by their formal dress and society's rules. Sex? There isn't any between Keats and Fanny. Only Brown's go at a housemaid brings a carnal intrusion. For Campion, it's nature that represents the swoons and storms of this unrequited romance. The film, shot by the gifted Greig Fraser, is a thing of beauty to match the snippets of Keats we hear on the soundtrack. But the film would remain a concept without the right actors to give it flesh and blood. Whishaw lets us into Keats' secret, anguished heart. And Cornish is glorious, making Fanny a force of womanhood able to take on Brown (Schneider is a sharply witty irritant) when he tries to break the connection between her and her beloved. Cornish catches the fertile mind that Fanny poignantly tries to nurture, knowing she'll grow closer to Keats by deciphering the words that possess him. A literate, lyrical love story in the age of Hollywood crass. I must be dreaming.

prev
Movie Review Main Next

ADD A COMMENT

Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...

COMMENTS

Sort by:
    Read More

    Movie Reviews

    More Reviews »
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.

    X

    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “Money For Nothing”

    Dire Straits | 1984

    Mark Knopfler wrote this song with Sting, and it wasn’t without controversy. The Dire Straits frontman's original lyric used the word “faggot” to describe a singer who got their “money for nothing and their chicks for free.” Even though the slur was edited out in many versions, the band, and Knopfler, still took plenty of criticism for the term. “I got an objection from the editor of a gay newspaper in London--he actually said it was below the belt,” Knopfler told Rolling Stone. Still, "Money For Nothing," undoubtedly augmented by its innovative early computer-animated video, stayed at Number One for three weeks.

    More Song Stories entries »
    www.expandtheroom.com