Just as how Nine failed to garner critical acclaim, I'm quite surprised at the accolades that Bright Star received, for its biographical story of one of the greatest Romantic Poets, John Keats. This should appeal to fans of the poet in watching a film regarding his romantic episode with Fanny Brawne, but for the casual movie goer (ahem like myself), Bright Star was anything like the brightness it got touted, and is pretty much an acquired taste.
For a film that proclaims to be that of a romance, and what more one would have thought Keats was a romantic at heart to have churned out some of the greatest poems, Jane Campion somehow sucked the romanticism completely out of her film, and the performance by Ben Whishaw as Keats can be summed up in one word - dry. It didn't help that his character spends a lot of time brooding, while best friend Charles Brown (Paul Schneider) spends a lot of time behaving as the opposite, loud mouthed braggart who thinks the world of himself.
It's a period piece, but one which had its plus points drawn from its locales (the Spanish Steps at the end had a lot of significance, and to be filmed on site void of people is simply amazing), and costumes thanks to the plot device of Fanny Brawne (Abbie Cornish) being her own strong-headed fashion designer of sorts who sews and modifies her own clothes. You know the drill by now, man meets woman and they fall in love, much to the opposition from friends and family members.
What took the cake was that the film was an extremely long poetry recital. Heck, Keat's poems were read aloud from time to time, by the characters themselves. If I want to know more about the poem, I'd get an audio tape, or read it from a book. Having it done the way it is in the film, just reeks of pure laziness. We neither know nor explore, nor were even given a whiff of a suggestion how his inspiration for his poems came about, other than being hopelessly smitten by Fanny. Letters to Fanny too were read aloud against some dull visuals, and I think someone forgot to remind Campion that we're dealing with film here, so please, let me see something that the movie stills seem to purport - that of Keats and Fanny spending one heck of a time together.
This film proves a point though, that putting two eye candy cast together does not automatically spell magic. True that one cannot expect big bang fireworks given the social rules that govern meetings between singles, but surely this is worst than watching paint dry on the wall. Uninspiring, and a Bright Star that's just like a comet, shining bright before crashing and burning. You've been warned, unless you're a poetry fan, and even so I'd advise you to go for a recital instead.