Monday, February 22, 2010

Movie Review: Bright Star

Long have I waited to see Bright Star, the story of John Keats (Ben Wishaw) and his muse/love, Fanny Brawne (Abbie Cornish). The movie looked absolutely dazzling and was critically acclaimed and is now up for an Oscar for the fabulous costumes. Despite my excitement for the film, it left me a little disappointed, and where it held strength in visual imagery and acting I felt the writing lacked what I needed for a fantastic film.

The film opens when the Brawne family visits the two Romantic poets of the town, Charles Brown and the already published yet struggling, John Keats. You will not find your typical Austen heroine in Fanny, for she may share the wit and brazenness of Lizzy Bennet, she also contains the rudeness and brattiness of a stereotypical teenager. She also has high aspirations of being something of a fashion designer, although I found many of her creations not to be aesthetically pleasing. Still, Keats falls in love with her and with her dutiful brother and sister always following, the two take long walks and talk poetry until nothing can keep them apart. Of course, as with all love stories, there are many hurdles to keep them apart, such as his lack of money.

As I stated before; I thought the acting was very well done and there were many familiar faces in the cast. The costumes deserve to be commended and the scenery was stunningly filmed. The art direction made each and every scene an a piece of art. There was one scene where the regency bedroom was filled with butterflies which played off the simplicity of the surroundings beautifully. But I just wasn't sold. First of all, the film just kind of begun, with no introduction, leaving you looking for a grip to hold on to the story. There were many holes throughout the beginning of the story just leaving you confused as to why the person was saying this or what the characters' relationship was with each other. The main character, Fanny, was difficult to like (but not all main characters should be liked, example: Scarlet O'Hara) which I felt made it difficult to see what starry-eyed, easy going Keats saw in the drama-queen teenager. Right off the bat, Fanny despised Keat's friend Brown, but there was no complete explanation why, so it seemed as if she was simply a judgey snob. Still, the actors did the best with the script, and there was a nice chemistry between Cornish and Wishaw in between strange lines and a lack of initial narrative.

My ending consensus is Bright Star is a beautiful movie, but don't expect your typical historical romance film. What it lacked in storyline it made up in imagery so it is up to you to decide which is more important to you. If you are looking for a complete and well laid-out regency romance, I would pass this one up.

[For those who have seen the flick and would like to know what actually happened to Fanny Brawne, there is a great write-up here.]


  1. Completely agree about the lack of introduction. I was very thrown at the beginning, and it was hard to get into the movie because of that.

  2. @Deamstress, but I will still be curious to read yours!

    @Catherine, I am glad it wasn't just me. Some one is bound to disagree but I just felt thrown into the story as if I was a late arrival to the theater!

  3. I agree with your opinion, I also was a bit disappointed after watching the movie. I also thought it was a bit too long in the end.
    Fanny's passion for fashion got somewhat lost in the storytelling, which I felt very sad about. I would have loved to see more about her craft, but the movie focused mostly on John's talents. This was particularly disappointing since the beginning of the movie seemed to introduce a "battle" between poetry and fashion.

  4. There were quite a few times when I had no idea who certain people were. Overall I enjoyed the film and certainly thought it was a step up from Jane Campion's other films which I disliked intensely.

  5. I was starting to feel like the lone critic--loved the poetry and the visuals, but I definitely agree with you that the script was weak.

    Wonderful review of what should have been a wonderful movie.

  6. I've heard others' reactions similar to your own but I found myself totally immersed in the film. I knew nothing of Keats before watching it (other than the fact that he was a poet) and I guess it can be a hit or miss as to how we respond to a film. I find it harder these days to find movies that really grab my attention and Bright Star surely did. Sorry, that it was a letdown for you!

  7. @Tinka, Yes! They totally forgot about her fashion career, it fell off the face of the planet. I attributed it to her being in love, which lays to waste many a good hobby.

    @CB, I'm glad you were able to enjoy it! I really thought I would be in the minority for not loving it as much as I wanted to!