Long have I waited to see Bright Star, the story of John Keats (Ben Wishaw) and his muse/love, Fanny Brawne (Abbie Cornish). The movie looked absolutely dazzling and was critically acclaimed and is now up for an Oscar for the fabulous costumes. Despite my excitement for the film, it left me a little disappointed, and where it held strength in visual imagery and acting I felt the writing lacked what I needed for a fantastic film.
The film opens when the Brawne family visits the two Romantic poets of the town, Charles Brown and the already published yet struggling, John Keats. You will not find your typical Austen heroine in Fanny, for she may share the wit and brazenness of Lizzy Bennet, she also contains the rudeness and brattiness of a stereotypical teenager. She also has high aspirations of being something of a fashion designer, although I found many of her creations not to be aesthetically pleasing. Still, Keats falls in love with her and with her dutiful brother and sister always following, the two take long walks and talk poetry until nothing can keep them apart. Of course, as with all love stories, there are many hurdles to keep them apart, such as his lack of money.
As I stated before; I thought the acting was very well done and there were many familiar faces in the cast. The costumes deserve to be commended and the scenery was stunningly filmed. The art direction made each and every scene an a piece of art. There was one scene where the regency bedroom was filled with butterflies which played off the simplicity of the surroundings beautifully. But I just wasn't sold. First of all, the film just kind of begun, with no introduction, leaving you looking for a grip to hold on to the story. There were many holes throughout the beginning of the story just leaving you confused as to why the person was saying this or what the characters' relationship was with each other. The main character, Fanny, was difficult to like (but not all main characters should be liked, example: Scarlet O'Hara) which I felt made it difficult to see what starry-eyed, easy going Keats saw in the drama-queen teenager. Right off the bat, Fanny despised Keat's friend Brown, but there was no complete explanation why, so it seemed as if she was simply a judgey snob. Still, the actors did the best with the script, and there was a nice chemistry between Cornish and Wishaw in between strange lines and a lack of initial narrative.
My ending consensus is Bright Star is a beautiful movie, but don't expect your typical historical romance film. What it lacked in storyline it made up in imagery so it is up to you to decide which is more important to you. If you are looking for a complete and well laid-out regency romance, I would pass this one up.
[For those who have seen the flick and would like to know what actually happened to Fanny Brawne, there is a great write-up here.]