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Bright Star


Stars: Ben Whishaw, Abbie Cornish. Paul Schneider, Kerry Fox, Thomas Sangster, Edie Martin, Gerard Monaco

Director: Jane Campion

There have been few cinematic attempts to cast a spotlight on the brief life of English poet John Keats, and on this evidence it's not difficult to see why. There just isn't enough drama in this survey of Keats' unconsummated love affair with Fannie Brawne to sustain one hour, let alone two.

Campion's soporific film may not be much cop in the final reckoning, but thank goodness it is beautiful to look it. Scene after scene, especially outdoors in the summer, is redolent of pictures by old masters. In this respect, the film parallels Stanley Kubrick's ravishing 1975 snoozer Barre Lyndon.

Nothing wrong with the acting either, even though such supporting characters as the film has prove largely uninteresting. Abbie Cornish is excellent, if a trifle dreary at times, as Fannie, while Ben Whishaw is suitably soulful as Keats, and his renditions of the poet's work could hardly be bettered.

As you can tell from the length of this review, there's nothing more to say. 'Why not bed her?' thunders Keats' friend Browne (Paul Schneider). 'It might relieve your condition.' It might also, for a brief while, have relieved our boredom.

David Quinlan

UK/Australia 2009. UK Distributor: Pathé (Warner Brothers). Technicolor.
119 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: PG.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 01 Nov 2009