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Bright Star
Genre Romance
Year: 2009
 
Review:

Bright Star is a Jane Campion film, based on a three year romance between poet, John Keats and Fanny Brawne, starring Ben Whishaw and Abbie Cornish. Campion's best known for The Piano and The Portrait of a Lady, averaging a film every three years. While the early '90s could be described as her heyday, she seemed to lose some of the sparkle with more contemporary films like Holy Smoke and In The Cut.

Bright Star marks a return to classic Campion cinema with a real-life love story to rival Romeo & Juliet. John Keats passed away at the age of 25... echoing the sentiment that the brightest flames burn fastest. Bright Star illuminates the romance he shared with Ms Fanny Brawne, who inspired some of his best work and shared some of his last moments in love.

The cinematography is exquisite... lulling us into the poetic countryside estate where the two lovers met and guiding the film home under a Bright Star. The luscious visuals make the film's Oscar nomination for Best Costume Design seem a bit lonely, despite the period piece accuracy. This is a beautiful film to behold and swathes the viewer in an enchanting blanket of love. The atmosphere is perfect and paves the way for fine performances from a relatively unknown cast including: Ben Whishaw, Paul Schneider and Abbie Cornish.

Whishaw's physique contrasts quite starkly with Cornish's and this reverses the roles in this romance. Fanny Brawne's name even reiterates this point and at times the two seem a little mismatched for chemistry. While the cinematography is excellent, the story seems much bigger than the execution. The scenes are taken from one country estate and it becomes a little stagnant at times.

There are definite sparks between the leads, but there appears to be more bite between Brawne and Brown, which leaves the three-year romantic engagement quite hollow in comparison. Bright Star's melancholic disposition and drawn out pacing do become a bit tedious even for a period piece, despite Paul Schneider's best efforts to provide the odd comic interlude.

The script sets the scene and tone for Bright Star, but fails to create characters with redeeming qualities. They seem so wrapped up in their own affairs and selfish desires that they alienate themselves from the rest of the world. Now if this is what being lovesick is all about, then this reviewer's missed the boat completely. Watching Bright Star was about as appetizing as staring into the Mona Lisa's eyes for half an hour in an empty gallery... beautiful and enchanting at first, but cold and tedious soon after. If you love beautiful period piece romances Bright Star may be worth viewing... but it'll do well to make you feel for the characters.

The bottom line: Dull.

 

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