Bright Star

Posted by Lou. The time is 12.10pm here in London, UK.

I know I gush about the artists I love a lot here, but must do it once again: Jane Campion is my idol. For the trail-blazer of contemporary woman filmmakers (the first to win a Palme d'Or, only the second in history to be nominated for a Best Directing Oscar) to be a New Zealander and a feminist, for her to make films about women that examine female sensuality and sexuality, means that she is a figure of utter awe and adoration to me. If I could have one person's career it would be hers. When she was quoted a few years ago as saying she would not make another film my disappointment was acute. As such, Bright Star - her film about the love affair between John Keats and Fanny Brawne - is something I have been anticipating since the moment I heard of it. (And I retain hope that she will one day realise that my dream project - Jane Campion writing and directing the life of Katherine Mansfield - is also her own.) Anyway, gushing aside...

Bright Star is - of course - wonderful. It is beautiful, romantic, sensual, and - above all - intimate. She introduced to the film by saying that the story of Keats and Brawne is a real-life Romeo and Juliet, but cautioned that it is like "a slowly opening door". No cautions were necessary - I cried twice within the first half hour and from the moment they met felt personally involved in their love story.

The filmmaking is stunning for its modesty - this film isn't about Jane Campion, it's about the love story of Keats of Brawne. She lets it unravel slowly and chastely, utterly engaging audience emotions in the process. There are moments of barely-there touches that are startlingly erotic, and scenes in which I was almost leaning forward in my chair willing the other characters to leave the room so that Keats and Brawne could have space to breathe together. This is all played out in front of a backdrop of sumptuous gorgeousness, which, again, is just there without the overly lingering camera that may have tempted other directors.

The acting is fantastic - Abbie Cornish in particular will be coming up again and again in the awards season. She single-handedly left me slumped in my chair with a sore throat and headache from the strain of holding myself together. Her Brawne anchors the film with an unusual mix of romanticism and sense. Ben Whishaw also does a tremendous job of keeping Keats in check - the danger with real-life geniuses being that the actor will play them as a genius, whereas in this he is kept firmly in the realm of human.

I hope beyond hope that maybe - just maybe - Jane will be the one to overcome one of the great bastions of male domination in the film industry and take home the..... oh, I can't even think on that. It'll just end in tears (whichever way it goes). A more realistic hope is that this films finds its way to a wide and willing audience - which brings me to some words from Jane on which to end:

"It's something beyond words, 'This is life, things of immense beauty and things of great pain.' For those people who go with it, that's the reward. For others who don't have that territory in them, I don't worry about that. They have their own movies to go to. They can go to 'Spider-Man 4.'"

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