“Whose lips? Were they my lips?” –Bright Star
Cry while you’re ahead. The tissue box will be your best friend when you watch this romantic tragedy. Loosely based on John Keats’ life, Bright Star is a story between two kids terribly falling in love, hesitating to touch and kiss, for the sole reason of being alive in one of the worst economical crisis of British history – years after the American Revolution.
Meet John Keats, a desperately impoverished poet whose letters will make you sob and wish you were Fanny Brawne – an okay looking respectable woman of society, totally into dandy boys. Watch as these two never touch each other. Ever. And experience the romance that can hardly be conveyed on screen for the sole purpose of making you fall in love with the bushy haired, scrawny, gentleman: John Keats.
I do apologize for the sarcasm, but as a fan of Keats, I am disappointed. Australia could have chosen a better Poet to ruin, but instead they chose Keats. Lucky us.
In protest, I will admit, Fanny Brawne was his light, his love, and life. But this movie does no justice to his respect for her. If you wish to be wooed, please skip this review, and move on to the Kate and Leopold Review. This will be a history lesson dedicated to the Bibliophiles and Keats Society members.
To help you endure this lecture, I will be blunt and leave the pretty letters for you to read, or watch (if wish to cry so badly):
Keats was poor. Like, he couldn’t save himself, kind of poor. But he was a good poet. And if anyone has ever been to a spoken word event, you’ll learn quick how fast poems can get you laid. And man, did he get laid. Keats had a mistress, and he wrote about how hot she was all the freakin’ time! In fact, her reputation was so well known that he had to rededicate the poem “Bright Star” to Fanny Brawne, just to have everyone accept that when he was over his mistress, he meant business.
Now, Fanny Brawne was held at the exact opposite pedestal. They did not have sex. Like none. She was the virgin Mary to him. She was respected as a lady, and if you ever read any of his letters and poems, I guarantee that you’ll love Keats better than the emo persona we have him in this movie. He was a fanatic of Greek Mythology, and along with his dialect, his words made women pile sweat on their brow like no bodice-tearing fanfic can ever seduce. It’s good. Made me faint from sensibility.
Keats died at the age of twenty-five. And his best known poem, Autumn, expresses his acceptance of death, and celebrates the season with an homage to what he saw, felt, and romanced as his own epic of a life. It’s a masterpiece. The accounts in the movie are real though, just left out a few bits, like how he could’ve had avoided poverty with his inheritance from his late aunt, and his prior mistress.
The character I must admit became my favorite in the film though was Charles Brown (Paul Schneider). His performance really brought out the best in both the characters, Keats (Ben Whishaw) and Brawne (Abbie Cornish). The grief he portrays did manage me to sympathize, as Keats’ death was something regrettable, even today as a reader. And his chiki flirting with Fanny was just perfect of the times, as Dandy men were really playful, and cruelty was a lot of fun during those days. If you find this awkward, I urge you to read more regency-based books. Humor was just invented in those days, and beforehand, it was wit and jesting. And don’t get me started with joshing…
Anyways, the film is great, if you’ve never read Keats. It makes you want that perfect gentleman, as the romance you believe you deserve; or if you have a desperately romantic boyfriend, this will make you miss him more. Death makes Keats ever-so perfect in this movie, as Fanny can walk with tears of strength in a vale of black in the Autumn she last remembered him for. Please enjoy the lavender fields and the childish doting these two characters play on each other. Let them give you hope that young love is as beautiful as Romeo and Juliet, and have the wit to respect yourself as an intellect and lady, at heart.