If there had been a way to spend today's chilly, grey afternoon it would have been a leaf-filled and windy walk through Richmond Park. But since that could not be, I went to the Ragtag and saw John Keats' England from my seat.
Bright Star is a beautiful film. Jane Campion has captured the magic of young Keats' work through two fantastic leads (Abbie Cornish and Ben Whishaw) and two hours filled with endless imagery which, much like love, exhausts and inspires the senses. The story is based on the true relationship between the poet and the girl next door, Fanny Braun. The script, stripped of superfluous lovey-dove, is honest and aching. Unlike a Jane Austen-based screenplay, the relationship here unfolds gently, slowly. No one falls in love after three days. And since it is a love we know cannot be (Keats had no income and gained acclaim posthumously), both Fanny and Keats tread cautiously. But as more letters are written and poems are read, we the audience fall with them into their agonizing love.
The original soundtrack is a nod to Mozart and quietly underscores Keats' word-filled pages and the sweet silence of a walk out-of-doors.
The cinematography is visual poetry. Bright white rooms and the colorful clothing of Fanny's own creation contrast against stark, snowy midwinters and Keats' dark, brooding study. Many times the characters' realities converge outside in a blinding sunlight or stormy day. Or, if Fanny enters the poet's study, she catches him (and us) off guard. We know why he called her his Bright Star.
Go see it!