Wednesday, February 24, 2010

"Bright Star" - Does It Satisfy My Obsession with Romantic British Film?

I missed the highly praised British film "Bright Star" when it first came out in theaters, but put it in my Netflix queue and watched it last night. It seemed like the sort of subject matter that I would enjoy: semi-biographical story of Romantic poet John Keats and his relationship with his muse, Fanny Brawne.

I liked:

- The interesting details about John Keats that I never learned in English poetry classes, such as his love for his brother Thomas who died of tuberculosis, his penniless position in society that prevented him from marrying, his friendship and financial dependence upon friend and would-be poet Christopher Brown, his bouts of depression and own ill health that resulted in his untimely death at age 25 also of tuberculosis. (Geez, who didn’t die of "consumption" in those days?!)

- The elements of Keats’ poetry that are brought to life visually - such as the image of Keats suspended in the tops of trees, wandering flowery meadows, or Fanny keeping a butterfly garden that is as lovely as it is temporary. The visual depiction of Keats' love of nature and the inspiration he draws from beauty is moving.

On the other hand:

- I know poets are typically imagined to be moody, sickly, and effeminate, and the actor who plays Keats certainly fits the bill. But it was a little too much - I didn’t get as wrapped up in the love story as I expected to because I had a hard time believing that he was really attracted to a female. The fact that I first saw Ben Whishaw in "Brideshead Revisited" in which he played a very convincing homosexual probably didn’t help.

- Fanny kind of bugged me, with her up and down emotional vicissitudes, her pathetic sobbing one minute and romantic bliss the next, not to mention her over-the-top reaction to Keats’ death in one scene. "Mother! I can't breathe! I can't breathe!"

Overall, I found the film to be interesting, if not as compelling as I’d hoped it would be.


  1. Hmmm... I was wondering about this movie. I'll see it, if only for the awesome clothes.


Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me!