One of the highlights of the weekend at the Cannes Film Festival was the premiere of Jane Campion’s Bright Star, centering on the 3-year romance, from 1818-1821, between poet John Keats and Fanny Brawne. Ben Whishaw stars as Keats, Abbie Cornish as his paramour Fanny, and Thomas Sangster as her
husband brother Samuel. Critics are entranced:
Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian UK:
Jane Campion has put herself in line for her second Palme d’Or here at the Cannes film festival with a film which I think could be the best of her career; an affecting and deeply considered study of the last years in the short life of John Keats, and the ecstasy of loss which suffuses his love affair with Fanny Brawne ‚Äì a love thwarted not due to illness, but to a pernicious web of money worries, social scruples and irrelevant male loyalties.
Campion brings to this story an unfashionable, unapologetic reverence for romance and romantic love, and she responds to Keats’s life and work with intelligence and grace.
Todd McCarthy, Variety:
Campion devotes special attention to the physical and aural aspects of this little middle-class corner of British society, thereby highlighting the sensual qualities of life that particularly captivated Keats himself. The opening shots convey the act of sewing — Fanny’s frequent activity — with unsurpassed intimacy, while a performance by a small male chorus at a domestic party carries oddly moving force, and other scenes pointedly focus upon pastimes that quiver with quasi-sexual sublimation, including dancing, sport, butterfly-collecting and hunting for the most fragrant flowers.
Jonathan Romney, The Independent UK:
Campion has been off the boil for years, but Bright Star is her best film since The Piano. Evoking the romance between John Keats and Fanny Brawne, it works both as a lyrical love story, and as a re-imagining of 19th-century English imagery, with Greig Fraser’s painterly photography setting the film magnificently at odds with the usual Dickens-Austen screen clich√©s. With Abbie Cornish unshowily magnificent as Fanny and Ben Whi-shaw as a very simpatico Keats, Bright Star is a richly realised comeback.
Photos from the red carpet premiere below.