Thursday, August 12, 2010

Not-So-Gentle (Re)Viewer: Jane Campion's Bright Star (2009)

I have been wanting to see Jane Campion's Bright Star since I first heard it would be released, although I hesitated to pay movie theatre prices to go to it. Bright Star tells the story of John Keats' final months, and his relationship with Fanny Brawne, and manages to remain fairly historically accurate.

Now, for those of you who don't know, Keats is among my favorite of the Romantic poets, in part because of his tragic end, and I've read (some of) the letters between Brawne and Keats, and even reading a fairly dry biography of Fanny is enough to make me sigh out loud.  That being said, this movie was just painful to watch.  Part of this is due to the fact that Fanny is portrayed as incredibly silly and, perhaps, not as serious about Keats as he is about her, yet every single scene of the movie is imbued with the uber-sober indie film feel.  Every. Single. Scene.  Despite the fact that the movie is from her point of view and not Keats'.  How can a character be frivolous and shallow, while at the same time encouraging fraught moments of silence and sweeping cinematography?

I was also unconvinced by the on-screen relatinship between the actors playing Keats (Ben Wishaw) and Fanny (Abbie Cornish), and the dialogue was incredibly boring.  Incredibly.  I cannot in good conscience recommend this film.


Homero said...

I can't really get over how much of a pansy Keats looks like in that poster. C'mon, the guy was a scrappy fighter, a runt of a guy that had a lot to prove. The trailer just screamed 'chic flick' to me. I want to see it, but I'm afraid I'm going to see "The Notebook 2" where I'm counting down to the main characters death.

Lindsay-with-an-A said...

... so, you DID see it, then?

"The Notebook 2" is the perfect description of this movie, which would have been about twenty times better if they had toned down the schmaltz and made it more of a period piece than a romance.

Jen said...

Hi there.. I'm a college classmate of Homero's, and I somehow maybe from his facebook happened upon your blog. After reading this entry, I had to check out this movie on Netflix... I, too, am a great fan of Keats... but you were right, this movie was not too good.

On the plus side, it did get me more interested in reading his letters, and just gaining a greater knowledge of his background and what may have influenced some of his writings.

Lindsay-with-an-A said...

Hi Jen! It's funny what you stumble across online, isn't it?

And you're right that this movie probably prompted more than one person to look up his letters, and that's never a bad thing. :)

Jen said...

Yep! Plus I looked up that poem, "Bright Star, would I were steadfast as thou art" in my Works of Keats, and it's actually a very nice poem. I also love "On the Grasshopper and Cricket," "On the Sea," "Modern Love," and "Ode on a Grecian Urn." Which are your favorites?

Lindsay-with-an-A said...

Hi Jen! Sorry for the late response--my absolute favorite Keats poem is "Ode to a Nightingale." He was so obsessed with death and the meaning of death towards the end of his life, and I remember I actually teared up in class when my professor lectured on it. (And THAT is why I studied literature--how many college students have lectures that move them to tears?)

I have a special fondness for "Ode on a Grecian Urn," though, too, because it was the first Keats poem I read in high school.

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