Bright Star

I guess you have to be a fan of the Romantic Poets: Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, Shelley and Keats. I admit that I am not, so this story about the short, tragic life of Keats left me pretty well unmoved. (I’m more a fan of “The Cremation of Sam McGee,” by Robert Service.)

This movie is beautifully directed by Kiwi-born, Jane Campion (“The Piano” and “The Water Diary”), who currently lives in Sydney. We are treated to many bucolic scenes with children romping in flower-strewn meadows and apple trees in full bloom; England should always be so lovely.

The tragic but chaste three-year love affair between John Keats and his neighbor Fanny Brawne is well documented because their love letters were preserved and he wrote letters about it to his brother in America before dying of consumption (tuberculosis) at age 25.

Our star-crossed lovers are played by Abbie Cornish (“A Good Year”) and Ben Whishaw (“The International”). They start out at odds because she loves high fashion and he loves literature and poetry. As she begins to respect him as a caring person, she develops a taste for poetry. The rest, as they say, is history.

A few items struck me a particularly noteworthy:
  • When notified of his death, her weeping was unusually authentic;
  • No one just sat, all the women had work at hand, whether child care, sewing or food preparation, they were never idle;
  • I very much enjoyed the sounds of the human orchestra; it’s surprising how people entertained themselves before radio, television, or the cinema;
  • Young Samuel Sangster (the darling little lovesick boy in “Love Actually”) has grown into a tall, gangly adolescent!

Many of the more pensive moments have a poetic voiceover. With my hearing impairment and my poetic tin ear, those were lost to me. If your hearing is good and you love the Romantics, this is just the ticket.