Bright Star In the sensual and womanly-wise period drama Bright Star , Abbie Cornish looks at once demure and succulent in astonishing peony-colored garments as Fanny Brawne,… Bright Star In the sensual and womanly-wise period drama Bright Star , Abbie Cornish looks at once demure and succulent in astonishing peony-colored garments as Fanny Brawne,… 2009-09-18 PG PT119M Drama Romance Abbie Cornish Ben Whishaw Kerry Fox Paul Schneider
Movie Review

Bright Star (2009)

MPAA Rating: PG
Abbie Cornish, Bright Star | BEAUX IN CHAPEAUS Abbie Cornish and Ben Whishaw as Fanny Brawne and John Keats in Bright Star
BEAUX IN CHAPEAUS Abbie Cornish and Ben Whishaw as Fanny Brawne and John Keats in Bright Star
EW's GRADE
A-

Details Limited Release: Sep 18, 2009; Rated: PG; Length: 119 Minutes; Genres: Drama, Romance; With: Abbie Cornish and Ben Whishaw

In the sensual and womanly-wise period drama Bright Star, Abbie Cornish looks at once demure and succulent in astonishing peony-colored garments as Fanny Brawne, while Ben Whishaw, in a teal waistcoat, is a vision of 19th-century emo tubercular hotness as the great Romantic poet John Keats. In life, Brawne was the girl next door who loved Keats deeply; the two were engaged when the poet died in Italy, coughing blood, at the age of 25. Today Brawne is remembered mostly as the recipient of passionate Keatsian love letters. (His poem ''Bright Star'' was dedicated to her.)

But in Jane Campion's quiet, luscious, stately meditation, an empathetic identification with Brawne's view of the world is tied to the filmmaker's thematic interest in young love (especially seen from a girl's point of view), the creative process, and the meaning of poetry. Brawne, a talented seamstress who found artistic expression in designing her own clothes, may have lived in an age of restrictive garments and equally restrictive rules of feminine conduct. But Campion's big-sisterly encouragement of Cornish's lovely, openhearted performance — and Whishaw's well-matched response — results in a character instantly, intimately recognizable to anyone remembering her own first love. A-

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Originally posted Sep 16, 2009 Published in issue #1067 Sep 25, 2009 Order article reprints