Movie Reviews

Film Review: “Bright Star”

(Apparition. 1 hour, 59 minutes. Rated PG for thematic elements, some sensuality, brief language and incidental smoking. Directed by Jane Campion.) Abbie Cornish (Fanny Brawne), Ben Whishaw (John Keats), Thomas Sangster (Samuel Brawne), Paul Schneider (Charles Armitage Brown), Kerry Fox (Mrs. Brawne). Music by Marc Bradshaw.

Unabashedly romantic, in the best sense. That word is mostly used by filmmakers these days in the phrase “romantic comedy,” and those are usually neither romantic nor funny. This is less like Campion’s In the Cut (remember that Meg Ryan/Mark Ruffalo fiasco from a few years ago?) and closer in tone to her best-known work, The Piano. Cornish is particularly impressive as the doomed poet John Keats’ muse. Not a great deal happens here, but the actors and Campion do a lot with a little. And there’s that gorgeous poetry. Listen also for the interesting use of music in the film: well-chosen, yet sparingly used. Stay through the credits to hear Whishaw recite “Ode to a Nightingale.” Bright Star is a small, yet shiny gem.

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