Kicking off my summer of film-gorging, I caught Jane Campion’s Bright Star on the weekend. Read any review and the word beautiful will be mentioned. That is because, quite simply, no other word captures the essence of this film quite so succinctly. Slow at times, the script sparse in parts, but undeniably beautiful.
Bright Star tells the story of the intense and oh so lovely relationship between Keats (Ben Whishaw) and neighbour, Fanny Brawne (Abbie Cornish) using the poet’s waxing and waning creativity as something of a mirror to the love affair. Wishaw is suitably slim and wildly intelligent as the young Keats who never lived to see his poetry so highly revered. Cornish is what Scarlett Johansson would be if she acted with a little less mouth. Her Brawne has the feistiness and uncertainty of a teenager in equal measures and the scene where she learns of the death of her love is very well played indeed.
Bright Star is just as its name suggests – it’s bright. Visually, it’s really quite fresh and with a modern feel (despite being set in 1818) with plenty of natural light bouncing of white walls and the crisp colours of Fanny Brawne’s frocks. The cinematography is one of the film’s biggest stars with love’s ache of longing captured in lingering shots of the famous English landscape.
Don’t go into Bright Star expecting everything to be felt for you. And don’t see it if you’re in an impatient frame of mine. See if when you’re quite ready to savour it – even when it gets slow. It’s a film you simply have to sit back and let wash over you. Particularly the final scene in which Cornish recites ‘Bright Star’ – close your eyes and just enjoy pure poetry.