Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Bright star
I had so looked forward to this widely acclaimed movie, written and directed by New Zealander Jane Campion, whose movie, The Piano, so enthralled me.
But sadly, I was disappointed.
It's gorgeous to look at at times. And for fans of textiles there's a lot to swoon over. Gustavian interiors, too.
But that's all.
The dialogue alternates between wafty and dense, the story is unconvincingly told, the whole is tedious.
This is not to detract from Abbie Cornish, who plays Fanny Brawne so luminously, and now I long to see her in something she can really get hold of and breathe life into. This had very little to offer her.
The story is about the three years when the young, pennilesss Romantic poet, John Keats, and Fanny live in Hamsptead.
They meet. They fall in love.
But, in this film, it's without heat, passion, lust, or, in fact, any conceivable reason.
Their relationship seems totally devoid of chemistry, perhaps because Ben Whishaw as Keats is such an unappealing wuss with his annoying secondary-modern accent. When he starts sprouting poetry, it's just ridiculous!
And how exactly does he achieve that constant five-o-clock shadow? Think about it! It's not possible.
The relationship between Fanny and Keats's best friend, Brown, with whom he lives, is far more interesting because at least it is based on mutual dislike and irritation.
If Brown hadn't said to Keats in the film: "By Jove, Keats old boy! You've jolly well started writing quite well in the past few weeks!", you'd never know Fanny had inspired some of Keats's most famous works.
And honestly, one more brooding, lingering shot from the ground through out-of-focus flowers, or through wobbly old glass windows, or in doorways, and I've have screamed.
We have been spoilt by Jane Austen done well, as my husband said to me on our way home from the film.
We are accustomed to lavish period pieces in which the drama and the dialogue match the sumptuous costumes and scenery.
This one doesn't pull that off.
Two and a half out of five from me, I'm afraid.


Garnered Stitches said...

I've seen the posters but was unsure of the plot, thanks for the critique. Will spend my hard earned freetime on something else and browse the textiles and interiors when/or if it appears on TV.
best wishes

Sarah said...

Oh dear, I've been worried this would have more style than substance and your review seems to confirm this! I'll probably still see it though, as I do think Abbie Cornish is a wonderful actress.

Barbara said...

Hello Lesley,
Happy New Year! I dreamed my way through this dreamy film. Abbie Cornish very special and I loved him stretching out on top of the apple tree, also wandering the garden pretending to be a bee. Kept hoping she would sew him a new jacket to replace his worn-out blue one. (But I can understand your reservations) The Eve of St Agnes remains one of my favorite poems.