Friday, September 25, 2009


This week one of my favourites from the Toronto International Film Festival comes out. Bright Star is directed by Jane Campion, who gave us The Piano and other fine films.

In the past Campion's films have had an edge to them, she's been described as a feminist filmmaker, whatever that means.

But it's been a number of years since we last heard from her and her tone, her approach has somewhat softened. Bright Star isn't a film with an agenda, other than to pay tribute to a luminous love story.

You'll see a lot of reviews with words like "luminous" for Bright Star. It' s not just because we're trying to be punny. It's because this is a film where light is spilling off the screen. Set in 19th-Century Britain, Campion contrasts the bleak English countryside with the colour-wild costumes the characters wear. It's a feast for the eyes and soul.

Bright Star tells the tale of the relationship between poet John Keats (a thing of beauty is a joy for ever) and his neighbour Fanny Brawne. Keep you eyes out for Paul Schneider as Charles Brown, Keat's partner-in-poetry who tries to keep his friend from Fanny's clutches.

Although the movie is filled with memorable images, (a hand pressing a note against glass) it's also a movie about words. You wouldn't think that a movie about writing poems could sustain itself for two hours, but it does. Consider it a love letter to language.

Once you do go see Bright Star may I recommend you listen to the podcast The Treatment. Elvis Mitchell recently interviewed Jane Campion and you can hear why Campion took a break from directing and how her fascination with needlework dovetails into Fannie's character.


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