Jane Campion's literary biopic tells the true story of Fanny Brawne (Abbie Cornish), a 23-year-old Londoner in 1818 whose independent streak manifests itself through an intense interest and love for fashion and dressmaking. Her neighbor, the struggling but gifted young poet John Keats (Ben Whishaw), underestimates her intelligence because he believes she's frivolous, and she, having no interest in literature, seems thoroughly disinterested in him. However, Fanny attempts to help the Keats family when John's brother becomes gravely ill, and in order to express his gratitude John agrees to teach her poetry -- leading Fanny and John to quickly fall deeply and profoundly in love with each other. Although they wish to wed, his lack of finances and his writing partner (Paul Schneider) -- who believes she is nothing more than an unwelcome distraction -- keep the two from marrying.
Londres 1818. Un jeune poète anglais de 23 ans, John Keats, et sa voisine Fanny Brawne entament une liaison amoureuse secrète. Emportés par l'intensité de leurs sentiments, les deux amoureux sont irrémédiablement liés et découvrent sensations et sentiments inconnus. « J'ai l'impression de me dissoudre » écrira Keats. Ensemble, ils partagent chaque jour davantage une obsédante passion romantique qui résiste aux obstacles de plus en plus nombreux. La maladie de Keats va pourtant tout remettre en cause
Add Jane Campion's rich, sensuous, quietly thrilling Bright Star to the very short list of admirable films about writers. In this case the writer is John Keats (Ben Whishaw), the Romantic poet who died at age 25 believing himself a failure. The movie, set during his last several years, focuses on his playful friendship with and evolving love for Fanny Brawne (Abbie Cornish), the independent-minded young woman who lived next door in Hampstead Village and was, in her own fashion, an artistic spirit. Completing an ineffably fraught constellation--not exactly a romantic triangle--is Keats's host Charles Armitage Brown (Paul Schneider), who loves, esteems, and regards Keats with both pride and envy, and engages in an unstated rivalry for Fanny. All three performances are superb, with Whishaw adding to his gallery of artist figures (the olfactorily obsessed murderer in Perfume, one of the Bob Dylans in I'm Not There), and Cornish and Schneider taking top acting honors for 2009. As in Campion's The Piano, others are party to the central story, and they have identities, personalities, and claims to intelligence and understanding that we appreciate without having it announced in dialogue. Kerry Fox (redheaded wild girl of Campion's An Angel at My Table nearly two decades ago) evokes Fanny's mother with a few brushstrokes, and Fanny's young sister and brother are watchful presences and de facto co-conspirators in the courtship. In addition, Bright Star is the rare period movie to convey--without being insistent--what it was like to be alive in another era, the nature of houses and rooms and how people occupied them, the way windows linked spaces and enlarged people's lives and experiences, how fires warmed as the milky English sunlight did not. And always there is an aliveness to place and weather, the creak of boardwalk underfoot and the wind rustling the reeds as lovers walk through a wetland. Poetry grows from such things; at least, Jane Campion's does. --Richard T. Jameson