Get SF Weekly Newsletters
Pin It

Keats and Brawne on Your Side 

Wednesday, Oct 14 2009
Set in the bucolic suburbs of early-19th-century London, as fresh and dewy as a newly mowed lawn, Jane Campion’s Bright Star recounts the love affair between a tubercular young poet and the fashionable teenager next door. Fanny Brawne (Australian actress Abbie Cornish) is a self-assured, imperious girl who makes her entrance in a dress of her own design, accessorized with a bright red, yellow-plumed stovepipe hat. Lippy as well as eye-catching, she immediately gets sassy with the self-important scribbler, John Keats (Ben Whishaw), who rents the house across the way. As played by Whishaw, Keats is clearly a proto–rock star—driven, yet lovable, and always attuned to himself. Mr. Keats and Miss Brawne make a fabulous couple: It’s a pleasure to watch and, for the most part, listen to them. Her emphatically smooth brow and his artfully tousled hair seem designed to counterpoint the turbulence beneath their restraint. Keats argued against an art founded on certainty. However, Bright Star has little interest in mystery -- or even ambivalence. England 1818 seems like a Fragonard garden, the pastoral height of civilization. Conversation is witty; summer seems eternal. Bright Star creates its own hermetic world. The requisite end titles suggest that Fanny consecrated her life to Keats’s memory; in fact, she married and had three children who eventually became rich on the sale of the letters she sensibly saved. Shadowed by the knowledge of love’s evanescence, this is a movie of undeniable pathos. But that does not make it sublime.
Oct. 21-29, 2:15, 5 & 8 p.m., 2009

About The Author

J. Hoberman


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed
  1. Most Popular


  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"