Bright Star

DRAMA; 1hr 59min

STARRING: Abbie Cornish, Ben Whishaw

Poetry emotion: Cornish and Whishaw

In director Jane Campion’s Bright Star, Fanny Brawne (Cornish), the love of poet John Keats’s (Whishaw) short life, is a free spirit and a fashionista in stuffy 1819 England. Her prettily stitched confections glow like gemstones, the beacon of a woman to be reckoned with.


Fanny knows nothing of poetry at first. But she sure does know how she feels about her brilliant young neighbour, while he is captivated by her beauty and spirit. Their courtship lasts two years and they’re engaged to be married when John contracts tuberculosis. He dies penniless at age 25 after wooing Fanny with exquisite letters and crafting poems of transcendent grace, “Bright Star” being one.


What a tender affair, doomed by mortality, beautifully filmed by cinematographer Greig Fraser and prettily embodied by an impassioned Cornish and a wishy-washy Whishaw! I felt for John and Fanny, so confined by circumstance, yet I couldn’t feel with them. The movie is lovely but fundamentally inert — more minuet than life-and-death romance, played out in a procession of attractively staged scenes that struggle to cut it as a full-bodied whole.