Bright Star

Bright Star

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Kiwi director Jane Campion's (The Piano) drama based on the three-year romance between 19th century poet John Keats (Ben Whishaw) and Fanny Brawne (Abbie Cornish), which was cut short by Keats' untimely death at age 25. Keats considered himself a failure in his own lifetime, but he was later "discovered" and revered as one of the great Romantic poets.... More

Bright Star was a hit at Cannes and opened the 2009 New Zealand International Film Festival.Hide

Flicks Review

Kiwi director Jane Campion (The Piano) returns to form in this romantic period drama with a decidedly literary bent. Together with the dazzling central performance of Abbie Cornish and well-utilised snippets of text from main character poet John Keats, she creates both a beguiling, subtle meditation on love and an impressionist look at the mores of the time.

Campion provides fantastic visuals and cleverly incorporates them into the story. She begins scenes with lingering shots on nature that mesmerise with their frail beauty and capture the essence of the key relationship. A keen eye for the fashions and attitudes of the time and a sense for well-placed humour are also tools that she makes assets of.

As good as the direction is, it’s Australian actress Abbie Cornish who steals the show and wildly succeeds with every tiny detail. The lack of an Oscar nod for Cornish is mind-boggling. Ben Whishaw does fine as Keats, but his portrayal can’t compare and this imbalance is the one unintentional weakness of the film.

Although the storyline is slight, Bright Star delivers a bouquet of quiet pleasures. From the evocation of mood through delicate imagery to the powerful romantic allure created by the most fleeting of moments, this is a mature and masterful slice of cinema.


The Peoples' Reviews

Average ratings from 10 ratings, 12 reviews
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Had I not been with a friend who actually really liked this movie I would have walked out. Terribly boring!


I'm being blamed completely for dragging a friend to this and make her sit through two hours of slow paced melodrama that is just way off the mark!
I am also feeling awful now after having sat through it. I understand that it is about love and unavailable love and that out of that sentiment words soar to create poems that tie and bind the way the lovers couldn't but for goodness sake Jane, you have done so much better with your films in the past - loved some of the cinematography but really... More found the pauses and silences toooooooo drawn out.
If as a viewer you really have a lot of time on your hands and not much else to do, perhaps go and see this but avoid taking any fidgety husbands or friends if you hope to avoid having your relationship end up like John and Fanny's!Hide


There was so much that I loved about this film. The cinematography is beautiful, and the depiction of 1818 Hampstead and British literary society fascinating. Yes, it is a movie that has a great quality of stillness (which is obviously not appreciated by all viewers) but some of us prefer slower and more thoughtful films! I enjoyed the talented acting too - and in particular Abbie Cornish's crying and portrayal of grief after hearing of Keats's death rang very true. Having experienced some huge... More personal losses myself, the crying she did is the closest to the truth and most believable I have ever seen on-screen. Fabulous.Hide


The terribly dull tale of two rather uninteresting people trying to get together. There's no real conflict.


I usually enjoy a good period piece but this one was way too slow for my liking! I know I'm getting older but have to say that this was a first for me - nodding off to sleep at one stage and at most others bored out of my brain! I must say that I have never fidgeted so much at a movie in all my life, inwardly screaming "please let it be over!"


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The Press Reviews

83% of critics recommend.
Rotten Tomatoes Score. More reviews on Rotten Tomatoes

  • Director Jane Campion has a knack for portraying female characters so intimately that she seems to get beneath their skin. She does it again in Bright Star, an exquisite piece of film-making about the doomed romance between the poet John Keats and his neighbour Fanny Brawne. Full Review

  • There will be some who may find Bright Star a little too slow and I can understand that feeling. My advice is, nestle back in your big cinema seat with a glass of red wine or a big box of popcorn, make yourself comfortable, and let the romance and poetry wash over you. Full Review

  • Breaking through any period-piece mustiness with piercing insight into the emotions and behavior of her characters, the writer-director examines the final years in the short life of 19th-century romantic poet John Keats through the eyes of his beloved, Fanny Brawne, played by Abbie Cornish in an outstanding performance. Full Review