Film Review: Bright Star

With the weather getting colder, what better way is there than to spend an afternoon laying warm and cozy on the sofa watching a movie, holding a hot drink in your hands? If you feel the need of some romanticism, and are tired of watching the same love comedies all over again, I bet this is the movie that’s right for you. (But, trust me, better to have a pack of tissues next to you, just in case...)

First released in 2009, ‘Bright Star’ is a film directed by Jane Campion, which narrates the brief, intense love story between the English romantic poet John Keats (Ben Whishaw) and his muse, the young Fanny Brawne (Abbie Cornish), during the last three years of Keats’s life.

The story takes place in the early 1800’s, in the countryside outside London, largely in the house where the two lovers lived, which now holds the ‘Keats House Museum’. It opens with the image of the girl stitching, her needle going up and down along the fabric. This is the only expression of freedom allowed her in the austerity of a nineteenth-century which sees woman tied exclusively to her role of wife and mother.

Fanny is vital, exuberant and joyful; so different from the portrait of the artist: quiet, reflective. Yet the two of them meet, and their two worlds collide. Their love is a burning passion, powerful but fragile, fueled by the love for poetry. This makes Fanny her lover’s main inspiration: his ‘bright star’.

Anyhow, which invincible separating force can be imagined, if not death? The poet is ill, the same disease that took his mother and brother away. But, though he knows he is going to die, he lives each day as if it was his last, and notwithstanding he pretends he will recover. Fanny is always next to him, they talk, dream together of a life they will not have. Until their separation, when the poet, more and more sick, is suggested to leave for Italy in search for a better climate.

The director develops the narration from the point of view of the female protagonist and often inserted direct quotations from Keats’s poems and letters.

What makes this film charming is the contrast between the serenity of the bucolic landscapes and of the family atmosphere, and the violence of the onset of the disease which destroys the hopes and dreams of the two lovers.

The whole story flows on the notes of a delicate melody of violin, which captures the spectator and makes him dance, along with the characters, torn between love and death, until the last scene.