Bright Star

Director Jane Campion's film Bright Star is the true story of the passionate, tortured love affair between Romantic poet John Keats and his young neighbor, Fanny Brawne.
The two meet while Keats is staying with his friend and patron, Charles Brown, in Hampstead Village near where Brawne's family is also staying. Campion avoids an explanation of the characters' histories and instead drops us immediately into a drawing room where Mr. Brown and the Brawne family are already conversing. Fanny expresses vocal distaste for Brown and a keen attraction to Keats, and without any kind of introduction, I felt totally disoriented; it was as if I had already missed an hour of the movie, though it was just beginning. The movie continues in this manner, with emotions running high and yet no clear indication or investment in why. It all comes off as aggravating melodrama.
But somewhere near the middle of the movie, Campion slows down and begins to show the intricate ways in which Keats and Brawne fall in love, and the many ways in which they are forced to be apart. Keats is penniless and cannot marry without any means to provide; Brown warns Keats that Fanny may just be a flirt with no serious intentions other than to tease and rouse him. With these objections, Campion builds real feeling with the movie, that sense of desire without ability to attain, and the confusion that love evokes. Keats and Brawne - played beautifully by Ben Whishaw and Abby Cornish - begin to smoulder with looks of longing at each other and secret chances to be near each other. This movie is rated PG, so there is never a consummation of affection, which only makes the passionate affect even stronger.
With lush cinematography, wonderful performances, and the romantic inclusion of Keats' poetry, I was eventually sold on this love story, despite the rocky start. You don't need to understand or even read poetry to appreciate this film; just be prepared with a bit of patience, an open heart, and a few tissues for the heart-wrenching end.

Stacey Nerdin -Movie Mom