Reviews: Bright star

(all the images are the property of BBC)

A review by Matteo Scala

“Bright Star” is a romantic film directed  by Jane Campion.

The film is about the last years of John Keats’s life (Keats is Ben Whishaw) . The principal character,  is his muse, the young Fanny Brawne (Abbie Cornish). The director focuses on a distinctly feminine point of view to  tell their love story.

Campion decides to start by  opposing the two figures: Fanny appears as  rebellious and superficial, so that initially Keats deems her brazen;  he is described as  a young melancholy poet who fails to be accepted by critics.

The film highlights romantic elements such as Nature, feelings and emotions, beauty (? and ugliness).

The scenes are set in a few key places: Miss Brawne’s home, the house where Keats is a guest,   . Large space is given to the landscape mood. When love blooms, the setting is sunny; when there are dark moments it switches to rain and snow. An example is when Keats’s friends decide to let him spend the winter in Rome:  the two lovers are dancing in the garden, and  Fanny’s little sister sees a yellow leaf which  she drives away;  she knows that with the autumn Keats will leave. Another perfect  choice is the thin wooden wall that divides the bedrooms of the two lovers, representing the impossibility of their love. Another detail of the film is the change in Fanny: the film opens with her sewing her bizarre clothes; as the film progresses the viewer’s eyes are no longer drawn to her clothes but focus on  the landscape and on the two lovers’s feelings. At the end, when Keats dies, fanny returns to dressing extravagantly. Another memorable idea is the  is the connection  between the lovers and the butterflies Fanny’s sister collects: they die when Fanny feels abandoned.

The film is good;  perhaps it is a bit slow in places, but it is fraught with  feelings and emotions.

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A review by R. Pistoia

Bright Star was directed by Jane Campion; the  cast included Ben Whishaw, who was famous for  acting  Hamlet when still very young,  and Abbie Cornish, who starred in “Elizabeth: The Golden Age” It was released in 2009.


The film tells the story of  John Keats’s love for  Fanny Brawne.

It takes place in Hampstead, in the countryside around London, between 1818 and 1821  .

The heroine, Fanny Brawne, is an independent,  outspoken girl fond of  sewing and embroidery, who  shows her originality by wearing dresses she has designed and made. She falls in love with the poet John Keats, and that will change her deeply, and make her less superficial.

This film allows you to  appreciate the dialogues between the characters and at the same time to listen to  silence.

The director highlights the characters’ emotions using the  landscape and the setting.

The two are  shown in bed,  divided only  by a thin wall. The natural scenery perfectly reflects the spirit of Romanticism: the landscape changes with  the characters’ moods, it is  full of darkness when  Keats is desperate, but it  may be lighter if thelovers hope for a better life.

S. Ravasio’s review

Bright Star is a film released in 2009 about the last years of life of the poet John Keats. The story is set in the countryside around London, and  the setting the costumes, especially Fanny Brawne’s, , are really accuratethey seem to get us back to  two centuries ago. The plot is so involving that the viewer will feel drawn intou into the story, almost  becoming one of the characters.

The film, whose title is taken from a poem by Keats, is a living picture; the scenes  of country life have beautiful, views and interesting camera angles.

The cast is good: Ben Whishaw as John Keats,  Abbie Cornish as his eccentric beloved Fanny Brawne, Paul Schneider as Charles Armitage Brown,  another poet and a friend of Keats’s; Kerry Fox as  Fanny’s mother and  Thomas Sangster as Samuel Brawne, Fanny’s brother.

The director is the great Jane Campion, who was able to represent the power and the inspiring role of love in poetry, but also the difficulties that the sincere love between two young people could  meet at that time, especially from the economic point of view.

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A review by A. Giavarini

The film “Bright star” by Jane Campion was released in 2009. It is a dramatic film, set in London from 1818 to 1821, which tells of the last three years in John Keats’s life.
it,. The actors (Ben Whishaw and Abbie Cornish)  are especially good at expressing  their characters’ emotions and feelings. Mr Wishaw expresses the poet’s  melancholy very well.

Fanny Brawne is a young middle- class woman that falls in love with John.  Keats returns her feelings but he is poor and ill, so he can’t marry his love. The relationship with Fanny changes the style of his poetry, which becomes  innovative. Their love is passionate and real, but Keats must leave for Italy in the hope to improve his healthThe poet dies away from Fanny, at  twenty-five years old.

I think this film tells the story of the great English romantic poet and of the power of love beautifully. I liked it very much

(Note: too much plot, too little else)

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Miss Biava’s review

“Bright star” is a film by Jane Campion. It was released in 2009. The title refers to one of Keats’s poems, inspired by his beloved.

We are in London in 1818 when young John Keats, wonderfully played by Ben Whishaw, meets Fanny Brawne. They quickly fall in love and she becomes his muse. Their relationship is intense but  unfortunately brief: Fanny’s mother doesn’t consider Keats social standing and finances adequate.

Besides,  Charles Brown, a close friend of the poet, doesn’t like the woman. Finally, Keats’s poor health causes him to move to Rome. Here he dies of tuberculosis just twenty-six years old.

In my opinion, the film’s  script and costumes are fantastic. The simplicity and the realism of the scenography by Janet Patterson allows the viewer to concentrate and empathise with the characters. The spectator can feel  the love of the protagonists.

Furthermore, I especially like the character of Fanny Brawne, brilliantly interpreted by Abbie Cornish. Jane Campion presents her as a real modern heroine, a strong, open-minded young woman, and she chooses her point of view to tell the story.

The theme of poetry is central to the whole film, it could be said that poetry is the protagonist of the film in all respects. Finally the theme of mortality,  to which even love is subjected, and the consequent  importance of living the present intensely are transmitted in the best of ways.


Beppe’s review

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The life of John Keats lasted twenty-five years, but only at the end did  his poetry reach its peak.  In “Bright Star”, the director Jane Campion deals with this final period, and tells the love story between the poet and Fanny Brawne. The two meet by chance and, after an initial mutual dislike, they get closer and closer until they fall for  each other. The plot is constructed as a poem:  the director uses lines from poems dedicated to Fanny. At the same time the film is very visual: the director likes to create scenes where Nature is the protagonist, with its many colors; many scenes  actually resemble Impressionist paintings. This is not only a stylistic choice: it  also expresses a truth about Keats: the poet believed one should look for ecstasy by losing oneselves, and merging with Nature. The use of elevated language in the dialogues emphasizes the topics of love and poetry, making the film difficult for the Sunday viewer, but a masterpiece for those who seek more than just entertainment. The soundtrack makes the atmosphere even more soulful, both in happy and in sad scenes. Despite that, the film does not try to make you weep: actually, I believe this is the director’s mistake:  she produced a film without any emotional involvement, though precious  to understand John Keats’s genius. I recommend this movie only to those who want to see a movie full of poetry and love, who are looking for something special and true and to better understand the spirit of this genius.

Francesca Parma’s review

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Bright Star is a movie directed by Jane Campion, the famous director from New Zealand, and it is based on the last three years in the short life of the English poet John Keats, who is interpreted by Ben Wishshaw.

The woman he falls in love with,  Fanny Brawne,  is Abbie Cornish. Charles Armitage Brown, an enemy of their love, is Paul Schneider.

This film is at the same time like a poem, and a painting too – an impressionist paintingwith, because of the colours, the camera angles, the views and the scenes of country life. The director has tried to bring Keats’ love of nature into the film.

The point of view of this film is entrusted to Fanny. She is a slightly  eccentric young woman who is interested in fashion. The actress’s appearance is really suitable for the character she  interprets: sensible but, at the same time, a rebel.  Fanny’s innocence was underlined by making her look very pale, so that we may notice that she blushes at their first kisses.

Sometimes the camera dwells too long on the details of a scene, which results boring and leaves nothing to the imagination. However most of the film is beautifully made  and balanced,  especially because the director was able to stage the psychology of the characters in an extraordinarily effective way. The actors were well cast for their  roles. However I found the narration slow and repetitive in a few moments.

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A review by Gloria Terzi

Jane Campion’s “Bright Star” (2009) is the exception that confirms the rule that movies about poets terribly boring. Let me give you an example and probably you’ll agree with me; a  few months ago I watched a movie about the life of Giacomo Leopardi and I fell asleep (twice). But “Bright Star”  changed my mind:  although the film has a slow pace  is shrouded in a peaceful calm, it isn’t boring at all.

This is not just a movie, but a deep study of the last three years in the short life of John Keats. It tells the story of his love for Fanny Brawne, mutual  but hindered by the young woman’s mother, the poet’s friend’s jealousy, money worries and, at the end, illness. Abbie Cornish is excellent at acting Fanny, and she was nominated for several awards. In this film, Jane Campion is at  her best as director; this movie has a nobility of its own and it will lead you into its world of poetry and beauty.

Bright Star ending

A review by Alessia Totis

Bright star is a film directed by Jane Campion, released in 2009. The title is taken from the first line of one of Keats’s  sonnets. Ben Whishaw plays  the poet and Abbie Cornish is Fanny Brawne, the poet’s beloved muse.

Set in Hampstead, in the  countryside near London,  the film narrates the last three years of Keats’s short life, with the intense and difficult relationship he started with Fanny, an unconventional, proud middle-class young woman. It is narrated  from her point of view. Unfortunately, I think it does not manage to convey the deep love feeling at the centre of the plot. I found it  very slow, repetitive at times,  with some monotonous scenes.

The only part that I found truly moving was the  ending, when Keats  struggles with tuberculosis and has to leave England, and Fanny.

The setting is very  fascinating/ intriguing, especially in the countryside scenes with the lovers walking or resting among the trees. The costumes received several awards.

In the movie there are many references to romantic poetry and quotations from Keats’s work. The film begins with Fanny approaching John to talk about Endymion, one of  his  first works, which had not received immediate recognition.

In conclusion the film is fine, but in my opinion it could have been better especially in the way the story is told.