Now we all recognize the name of John Keats or at least we should... Philistines. Keats is considered one of the great romantic poets. Just like the celebrities of today, I was not familiar with Keats’s personal life. To me, Fanny Brawne sounded vaguely like an answer to a Jeopardy question. That may also be true, but she is more known as the muse for Keats. Bright Star tells the tale of their pure romance.
It is difficult to properly classify this movie. It is a biopic but it isn’t just like it’s a period piece but isn’t. Pardon my contradiction, but this movie felt like a wonderful breath of fresh air. This movie reminded us that a genre movie does not have to fall into the same tired beats. The film begins immediately into the story, never talking down to the audience to explain the time and the characters. As much as the trailer wishes you to believe, this doesn’t fall into the typical period piece clichés where it is about character fighting against class systems. There are those elements and they are an obstacle, but no one is monologuing about them. The characters understand their situation so there is no need to whine endlessly about it.
This is what I really love about this movie. The whole piece just feels so delicate. There is not a wasted word or scene on screen. Like the poems of Keats, everything feels so wonderfully actualized. This is the work of a skilled artist. Jane Campion is a director I’ve always admired, but never anticipated her new entries. Bright Star changed that. It wasn’t just her screenplay, but the way every frame felt organic and realized. Also there is a real sense that she is an actor’s director. She is working with accomplished characters actors like Ben Wishaw (Perfume) and they all are able to capture nuances needed for the characters. Especially Paul Schneider. Good golly Miss Molly; why aren’t more people giving him the proper credit as one of the best actors working right now? He’s remarkable in this just like he was in All the Real Girls, The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford, and Lars and the Real Girl. Eventually he’ll receive an Oscar nomination. He deserves it for his role as Mr. Brown, Keats’s best friend and lesser poet. I always thought that talking about potential Oscar bids was the best way to date a review, but in this case I’m just hoping for that.
Ultimately, Bright Star is as intelligent and sweet as the subjects themselves. This movie is not limited towards the female gender. In fact John Keats proves that real men know romance. It’s not shameful to take notes. At least I hope not.