Bright Star


Another film that troubled me on moral grounds.  To start off with, I was just bored as the relationship between Keats and Fanny Brawne developed very very slowly, although with some lovely interiors and clothes (and close-up needlework).  Then Keats began dying of TB and I felt this was the kind of thing that ought to be kept private, rather than exhibited to the paying public as entertainment.  And especially in the case of a very young person who has not even had the opportunity to develop some framework of ideas to make sense of and react to their death.

But one cannot really accuse the film of excessive realism.  Everyone spoke in the very genteel tones employed for period drama, when in fact Keats had a pronounced cockney accent, which was another stick for conservative critics to beat him with.  Everyone was very nice, apart from the Scotsman Brown (and the Irish maid Abigail was preternaturally stupid–surprising to see an Antipodean like Jane Campion being so sound on the national question), while when I last read a biography of Keats he became very bitter about Fanny not requiting his feelings and blamed her for hastening his death.  (Which is the kind of thing I even less want to see on the screen.)

There were outstanding performances from Edie Martin as Fanny’s little sister and Topper as the Brawnes’ cat.

Under the influence of Keats’s Ode to a Nightingale and Mozart’s Gran Partita I cried at the end.  Strange that–the Gran Partita gives you the feeling that nothing bad can ever happen, when normally Mozart has some kind of fragility that makes you fear it’s all going to fall apart.

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