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Re: Bright Star reviews, ratings etc. *SPOILERS*

PostPosted: Thu Oct 01, 2009 6:50 am
by Aquarius
I will being seeing Bright Star this Saturday night, and I won't be going into the theater with any expectations, although from all the reviews I've read, and from re-watching the trailer so many times, I almost feel like I've already watched it. :lol: It's consumed me! Anyways, I will post my thoughts on it soon after. In regards to the portrayal of Keats by Whishaw, I have heard mostly good feedback about his performance. I don't expect the film to show all the complexities of Keats' personality, especially since it compresses about a 3 year period of his life in only two hours, and is from Fanny's point of view.

Re: Bright Star reviews, ratings etc. *SPOILERS*

PostPosted: Thu Oct 01, 2009 7:25 am
by BrokenLyre
I just found out today that the movie will be playing for the public for 5 days (at one theater) in Buffalo New York area.That is great - since I can see it again. This time I will just enjoy the film with my family. I do very much hope that you can all see it as it is being shown in 130 locations in the US at least.

Re: Bright Star reviews, ratings etc. *SPOILERS*

PostPosted: Thu Oct 01, 2009 2:02 pm
by Malia
I'll be watching the film on Friday (tomorrow!) with my brother and sister-in-law and a few friends from work. I'm thankful we have a small Independent Film theatre (the Magic Lantern) that will play it, as it would never have come out in a multiplex theatre here in Spokane. It will be at the Magic Lantern for only about a week, so I feel pretty fortunate to have a chance to see it. :)

I'll admit I feel a lot like you do, Aquarius--both regarding my expectations of the movie and having the sense that I've already *seen* it--considering how many reviews I've read! (Probably upwards of 60 to 100!). Feeling a little burnt out on the film, actually. . .but I think watching the real thing will help revitalize my sense of interest and excitement. I've been waiting for a Keats-themed movie for upwards of 15 years now. Hard to believe I'll see one tomorrow night.

Re: Bright Star reviews, ratings etc. *SPOILERS*

PostPosted: Thu Oct 01, 2009 8:06 pm
by Sid13
Bright Star has been playing here all week, but I'm such a slacker that I still haven't seen it. Actually, I do have a semi-legit excuse. I had a horrible stomach virus last weekend. Anyway, I'm feeling better now, and I'll definitely be seeing it this weekend, probably Saturday.

Re: Bright Star reviews, ratings etc. *SPOILERS*

PostPosted: Thu Oct 01, 2009 8:17 pm
by Malia
I hope you'll consider giving a review of the movie, Sid13. Enjoy --and I'm glad you're feeling better from your stomach flu. I had that this summer and I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy.

Re: Bright Star reviews, ratings etc. *SPOILERS*

PostPosted: Sat Oct 03, 2009 5:34 am
by AsphodelElysium
Okay, so I drove an hour and half to Greensboro to watch Bright Star. I hesitate to write a review, though, because not all of my fine forum friends have watched the movie yet. I also need at least a day to process. For those of you who've seen the movie, what did you think?

Re: Bright Star reviews, ratings etc. *SPOILERS*

PostPosted: Sat Oct 03, 2009 10:16 am
by Saturn
Most of us still haven't seen it, but we've read reviews etc, and would love to read your opinion AE; I probably won't be able to see until it's released on DVD but am eager and willing to read everyone else's opinions on it.

Re: Bright Star reviews, ratings etc. *SPOILERS*

PostPosted: Sat Oct 03, 2009 3:12 pm
by Malia
Well, I finally saw Bright Star last night! My brother Dan, my sister-in-law Molly, and my friends Connie and Marcy went with me. After the movie, I polled most of them as to what grade they would give the movie (Marcy said she loved the movie, but had to leave before I could get her rating). Dan= A-, Molly= A, Connie, B+, and as for myself, I granted it a B+ also.

So, within our group at least, the movie was successful :)

Some of my thoughts in no particular order: (And there may be spoilers here. . .but I don't think any of them is earth-shattering or movie-ruining, though.)

I was pleasantly surprised that Keats (especially at the start of the film) had a sense of humor and a sense of fun. I'm so glad they include this in the film! I thought he might be a "wilting flower" the whole movie, but thankfully he wasn't.

Even though I know the movie was from Fanny's perspective, I thought Keats was the *one* character who remained a kind of enigma. It was often hard to read his thoughts. We understood Fanny's and even Brown's feelings very well, but Keats wasn't often as easy to read. Whishaw plays him "close to the vest" and most of the time, Keats either comes off being either seen as extremely reserved or perhaps even uninterested--which he obviously wasn't, so I interpreted his character to be very reserved on the surface with his passionate emotions residing deeper within. He's a man struggling, I think, for supreme control over himself and a situation, namely his illness and impossible love affair, over which he has very little control. There is an aspect of that "struggle" in the real Keats--especially toward the end of his life--and so I didn't think it was so completely foreign a way to approach his character. However, I would have liked to have seen a few more scenes with more emotional display.

I also noticed the kind of pure, ethereal quality that Campion wanted to display in Keats--there is one little scene between Brown and Keats in particular (pertaining to the maid Abigail). Keats is portrayed, I think, as kind of. . .well, virginal--and a little "dense" when it comes to the things like masters sleeping with their maids ;)

I like the fact that George and Fanny Keats are mentioned in the movie (in passing)--but they do *exist* in this story. Campion does a good job of being true to history when it came to things such as Keats's family history, the fact that he studied medicine, the savage reviews of his work, etc. Many of these things are mentioned in passing, but I am glad that they *were* mentioned rather than saying that Keats only had one brother, Tom, who is the only sibling who actually has a scene in the movie.

Paul Schneider's Brown was a great leavening in the movie. Much of the time, he's a misogynist buffoon of sorts, but it really suits the way the character is written and works well in the story.

We see several of the Keats circle in this movie and anyone who knows about Keats would be able to pick most of them out. However, many of them are unnamed and I kept wondering "is that guy supposed to be Hunt or Haslam?"

The cinematography was fabulous and Keats's poems were woven into the storyline seamlessly--it didn't seem out of place at all for someone to start reciting some of his lines. The dialog, the way the characters moved and behaved was refreshingly natural. This movie didn't feel at all like a "period" film in the traditional sense. Their clothing looked lived in, not like they just whipped their costumes off of a mannequin from some museum.

There were a few scenes that particularly struck me as great, but I don't want to reveal too much, so I will leave out the details. I will say that one of them is when Keats has his first blood spitting attack--all of that night is seen from Fanny's POV and I thought it was well done--any kind of melodrama was expertly avoided and we very much get a sense of the pain and sense of helplessness that Fanny feels.

While I was watching the movie, I surveyed the audience to see what kind of reaction they were giving the movie. One guy sitting next to me kept releasing these great heaving sighs--as if he was so bored he'd forget to breathe unless he sighed. Most people seemed really engaged, especially during the humorous moments--there was a lot of laughter! And during the most tragic moments, you could hear a pin drop. I remember hearing one person sniffing through nearly half the movie. At first I thought, "wow, someone is really touched by the movie" and after a while, I could hardly believe someone could be teary-eyed through so much of the film and I assumed that the person had an allergy or something. Toward the end, the sniffing got louder and I could tell this person was crying his or her eyes out! After the movie ended, I turned around to see who the sniffer was and it was my sister-in-law Molly! Her face was completely red from crying. We all had a kind of laugh about it, because Molly is an extremely intuitive person who easily feels others' emotions--and she sure felt Fanny's!

Anyway, all said and done it is a good movie. I would have done many things differently, but that doesn't mean this movie did everything *wrong*. I think my biggest "problem" with it was that Keats didn't have the depth, in my mind, that either Fanny or Brown had. He was a little too "pure" for me. But I guess that's the director putting a great poet on a bit of a pedestal. Mind you, Whishaw is a fantastic actor and did what he could with what he was given.

Re: Bright Star reviews, ratings etc. *SPOILERS*

PostPosted: Sat Oct 03, 2009 3:43 pm
by BrokenLyre
I am so glad you saw it - and wrote about it! Thanks Malia!

You put your finger on the real weakness - that Keats character needed more development. As I stated before, 12 more minutes on the front end of the movie establishing Keats' person would have really helped. BUT - I am going tonight and tomorrow - taking friends with me to see it again. I am just happy to see anything about him in a movie. Thanks again Malia!

Re: Bright Star reviews, ratings etc. *SPOILERS*

PostPosted: Sat Oct 03, 2009 6:12 pm
by Malia
Like you, BrokenLyre, I'll probably watch the movie one more time before it is gone from the theatre next week. After all, it is only playing downtown--a 10 minute drive from where I live at most and each showing is only $5.00. Totally worth having a second viewing. I may also get more of the subtle details Campion has woven through the film. Some of those details (the ones I caught last night) I think only a well-read Keatsian would catch--and know where they originated.

Re: Bright Star reviews, ratings etc. *SPOILERS*

PostPosted: Sun Oct 04, 2009 8:36 am
by Aquarius
Well, I just came back from seeing Bright Star, and I'm still in a state of ecstasy over it.

The audience I saw it with seemed to really enjoy it: they laughed at all the funny bits, and seemed to absolutely adore Fanny's sister. Every time she came on screen you could practically hear everyone smile. The end of the film was heartbreaking, and I could see and hear a few of the women around me crying. I admit, my eyes were brimming with tears a bit too.

For me, the beauty and loveliness of the film lingers with you long after the credits have ended.

Ben Whishaw's performance is understated while also showing the witty, naive, serious and kindhearted qualities of Keats' character. The wittiness of Whishaw's Keats stood out for me, and made Keats more endearing as a person. I also think Campion was presenting an angelic, pure Keats. I do wish Whishaw showed more passion in his role, for if one didn't know it, an audience member might think he was slightly indifferent to Fanny's pain, rather than just saving himself from pain by cutting him off from her. However, this is a very tiny and minor detail for me, as the two leads had incredible chemistry together. Overall, the performances by all the actors are so well acted and natural and endearing, that you cannot help but love the film. The children, Fanny's little sister in particular, shine, and have great lines.

Abbie Cornish astounded me with her acting. If she doesn't get nominated for an Oscar or something, it will be an injustice. She was exquisite and just WOW.

I have watched many film adaptations of Jane Austen's novels and other period films, but Bright Star is much better than most of them. The attention to the details of everyday life, from the children tossing around a ball in the yard, to the little games that Keats and Fanny play with her sister are so touching and realistic, that the film feels naturalistic and yet of another world at the same time. I was incredibly touched by the film and I could rave on about the beauty of the cinematography. The film makes much use of natural light, and every frame is something worthy to hang on your wall.
The use of music is minimal in the film, but when it is used, it is used very well.

The poetry read in the film comes out of the actors' mouths very naturally, and I would hope inspire many to look up Keats in their nearest library, because it certainly made me appreciate Keats' words so much more than I did already.

I saw the film at the Calgary Film Festival, but the film hasn't been released yet here other than for the festival. If it does get a wide release internationally, I know I will see it again. I had high expectations for the film, even though I tried to lower them. Bright Star far exceeded my expectations, but then again it was because of the emotional investment I already had in the story.

Once it comes on DVD it will be permanently in my dvd player, that's for sure.

Re: Bright Star reviews, ratings etc. *SPOILERS*

PostPosted: Sun Oct 04, 2009 8:41 am
by Saturn
Nice to read a very positive review there Aquarius :)

I'm very jealous of all you guys seeing it so soon, I guess I won't see it until next year sometime when the DVD is released, hope it's worth the wait.

Re: Bright Star reviews, ratings etc. *SPOILERS*

PostPosted: Sun Oct 04, 2009 10:17 pm
by AsphodelElysium
Okay, since its alright to do a review...I still feel like I need to put a disclaimer here, though. I didn't love the movie, but I didn't hate it either. I agree with Malia and would give it a B, but for different reasons. Anyway, I have no elegant way to begin, so I'll plow into it. *May contain spoilers*

The beginning scenes were faster paced, a bit choppier, than the rest of the film. I felt like we needed more introduction to Fanny and to John instead of just jumping right in. I realize too, that there are time restraints, but the opening didn't have the continuity and flow that the rest of the film displayed. The sense of time passing that Campion managed during the middle and end of the film was missing during the first half hour.

The cinematography was stunning, ethereal almost. The scenes were nearly dreamlike in their beauty. Truly, that cannot be stressed enough. I have to second Malia's comment on the costuming. It was like watching real people, rather than, period actors.

Keats's poetry was woven naturally throughout the film like a fine net to pull everything together. It didn't seem contrived at all to hear the actors reciting or talking to each other of his poetry. Another huge plus.

Again, the ending was a bit of a disappointment. Fanny's "grief" came off more like a tantrum, in fact, I laughed (I feel everyone's horror/condemnation right now). Cornish's acting, up until that point, was impeccable, as was, the almost seamless use of Keats's poetry. The very final scene felt forced, unnatural. I know why Campion did it, I just felt like it could have been handled differently to where it didn't feel tacked on to the end.

Progression after the first half hour was incredibly smooth, well-paced. The overall authenticity of events was also well done.

Didn't care for the film score. The choral parts were distracting from the dialogue and the poetry. Something more subtle I think would've been better, something more powerful, but I can't think of a good example.

The chemistry between Keats and Fanny was believable. In fact, the acting all around was superb. I can't fault any of the actors for their portrayals. However, and this is just me, I could not suspend my disbelief about Fanny's devotion and passion. When they were together, I could believe the connection, but when it was just her, I just couldn't believe it. That's totally on me, though. Cornish's acting was very good, but I couldn't set aside my preconceived notions of Fanny Brawne. Its a terrible mistake, though a common one, to believe that just because brilliant, talented, fascinating artistic figure finds someone interesting, that they really are. Perhaps they are interesting by association, but what I feel is more likely is that its the artist's imagination/perception of that person that makes them interesting, not the person on their own. I daresay many a talented person has cared about someone who just didn't get it because they imagined the person did. These are just my personal feelings about Fanny Brawne. I'm not saying she didn't care about Keats, but I haven't ever been able to make myself believe she had the same depth of emotion for him as he did for her. Its always felt like a lopsided relationship to me and that colored my perception of the movie, so take this with a grain of salt. I have to say, also, that I expected a more extroverted Fanny. Cornish's portrayal was more subdued, but I didn't like it the less for it.

I'm also glad Campion didn't portray Keats as the obsessive, demanding lover. It was good that we got to see his humorous, more light-hearted side. It was refreshing at the very least. I do agree with Malia, though, there was a touch of the "too pure." It would have been nice to see a bit more emotion. It was almost like he was already a ghost haunting them and that may have been the point. The feeling may come about as a result, too, of the film not being about Keats's life, but Fanny's life with him.

Charles Brown was cringe worthy. It got to the point in the film that I dreaded every time he opened his mouth. I'm going to have to re-read some things, but I don't recall him being such an ass. It wouldn't have hurt to show some of his redeeming qualities as one couldn't help but wonder why Keats was friends with him in the first place.

Whishaw's recitation of "Ode to a Nightingale" was powerful. It was the only point in the movie that I even teared up, but it doesn't really count because I always cry when I read/hear that particular Ode.

I had the same experience of other people in the theater weeping. In fact, the woman behind me was openly, loudly, sobbing. I did feel a slight bit of remorse for laughing at Fanny's "grief" while everyone else was crying. I really thought I would be one of them. Overall, I enjoyed the film, was glad it came out as well as it did, was pleased with the finished product. I would like to watch it again in the theaters, but I don't think I'll get a chance, its playing so far away. I may feel better about some of the other parts after I watch it again, but I'll definitely be purchasing Bright Star on DVD.

Re: Bright Star reviews, ratings etc. *SPOILERS*

PostPosted: Sun Oct 04, 2009 10:42 pm
by Aquarius
Thanks, for your honest review AsphodelElysium.

I think I enjoyed the film more than you, but I do agree with you about the imbalance of passion and emotion between Fanny and Keats. From reading Keats' letters to Fanny, I got the impression that he was more emotionally invested in their love than her, but in the movie, it was almost the other way around. Clearly, most of that is due to the story being told from Fanny's point of view. I think Campion wanted to show the female perspective, because that was the point of entry into the story for her, as a female director. She is known to put a strong female character at the center of her films, so I can see why Fanny is portrayed with so much strong will and passion that we don't see in Keats' letters. I also think Campion wanted to change the preconceived notion that Fanny didn't feel as much as Keats, as he did for her, and show her in a better light. To tell the story as the letters tell it would have been a much more different story than Campion wanted to tell, as they are all written from Keats to Fanny. I think if the movie followed Keats rather than Fanny, we would have seen a much more indifferent and less passionate Fanny. However, when Fanny is reading his letters and we hear them, they are absolutely exquisite.

Cornish's Fanny was in the beginning quite witty and her banter with Charles Brown in many scenes in the beginning of the film showed her feistiness. Also, some of her outfits were definitely extroverted. I've never seen so many pleats and ruffles! It was only later on, when the prospects of Keats and Fanny's relationship turned dark, that she became much more brooding.

Re: Bright Star reviews, ratings etc. *SPOILERS*

PostPosted: Mon Oct 05, 2009 3:44 am
by AsphodelElysium
Eh, honest to a fault, but thank you, for not gathering the villagers with the torches and pitchforks.

I wondered, too, what/where Campion pinned her interest. I think maybe it was the idea of being the object of so much intensity. I will say this in favor of Fanny, that it would take a great deal of either patience or tolerance to put up with Keats when he was just letting loose. I understand Campion's fascination, even if I don't buy it myself. I was really excited that it was going to be her directing though. I adore [i]The Piano[i].

We don't actually have any of Fanny's letters to Keats do we? I can't remember exactly, so someone correct me if I'm wrong. Oh, and another quibble, did she actually wear his ring until her dying day? I don't recall ever reading that, but I could be wrong. I was just wondering how she would explain it to her husband and children.