An official selection of the Cannes Film Festival, writer/director Jane Campion presents Bright Star – starring Abbie Cornish and Ben Wishaw. While the film is noted as a portrait of both love AND loss – I am partial to the latter adjective.
In 19th century London, John Keats (Ben Wishaw), a young English poet, finds himself in the throws of romance with the spunky and stylish girl next door, Fanny Brawne (Abbie Cornish). Despite the opposition of their friends and families, they explore their budding relationship through an unconditional, and certainly unconventional literary connection.
- The costumes?
- An Empty Skeleton: Any synopsis of Bright Star should create the illusion of the perfect romance film. It’s a period piece, it features a covert love affair between a very unlikely duo, and it’s seeping with some of the most beloved poetry in the history of English literature. With that, I can only compare Bright Star to cheating on a middle school math test: my answers were (miraculously!) correct, but somehow the work couldn’t seem more irrelevant – therefore earning me zero credit. Bright Star possessed a number of quintessential factors that make a romance film memorable, but there was no feeling behind these seemingly “correct” story dynamics.
- Keats/Fanny’s Relationship: Typically it’s effortless for an audience to feel captivated by a solid love story, especially a non-fictional one. Bright Star is an adaptation of real events – these people were actually in love, and Fanny Brawne inspired some of Keats’ most acclaimed work in the final years of his life. Facts aside, there was no display of believable affection for the audience to latch onto (further indicating how poorly this relationship translated to the screen). Every moment that appeared to have the appropriate ingredients for an “aww” moment was significantly overshadowed by confusion (mental note: they couldn’t possibly have fallen in love during the ten seconds it took me to silence my phone).
- Abbie Cornish: While her emotional deliveries were derived from what appeared to be a place of sincerity, there was a palpable insufficiency in her performance: Embodying Fanny’s physicality. As a student of fashion, Fanny is shameless in her arguably audacious sense of style and outspoken nature. In short, she’s got some swagger. Cornish was so awkward in her own body that her discomfort resonated throughout the entire theatre – hence making it difficult to totally believe her in the role.
This is a prime example of a failed attempt to tell a beautiful story that an audience would inevitably adore. The disappointment will irritate you beyond words. I am still irritated as I type this.