I wanted to review this film from a Christian standpoint because I'm sure some of my viewers were curious like me to know whether with film was of interest or not.
|Ben Whishaw as John Keats|
|Abbie Cornish as Fanny Brawne|
Scenes: This film is essentially a piece of art, the cinematography is stunning! Bright colors and scenes are balanced by darker ones. Nature is a huge part of many of the scenes, flowers inside and indoors and even a room full of butterflies make the scenes truly amazing.
|Fanny Brawne's Costumes|
Music: Composed by Mark Bradshaw, the music is as beautiful as the scenes, costumes and poetry - all playing in harmony together. Most of the soundtrack is played with stringed instruments but there is one lovely piece called "Human Orchestra" that is "played" all with human voices. The official Bright Star soundtrack is a mere nine tracks and half of them also contain poetry being read.
John Keats Fanny Brawne
Characters & Actors: Most of these actors are new to me but I'd heard a bit about their brilliance and was not disappointed. The characters were very well drawn and easy to sympathize with.
- Abbie Cornish as Fanny Brawne - Fanny, age 18, is a bright, intelligent young woman, independent and passionate. She is devoted to her family and a very talented seamstress. When she reads Mr. Keats' poetry she sees the beauty of his soul and falls in love with him. She is a heroine to rival Marianne Dashwood in her high ideals and romantic mind, when separated from John Keats she falls into a deep depression which takes the life out of her. Abbie Cornish is amazing as Fanny, I could feel every emotion of her heart.
- Ben Whishaw as John Keats - Creative minded poet John Keats is a quiet young man, not impressed by finery or wealth but greatly respecting people who feel deeply like himself. When his brother dies Fanny's kindness touches him to the heart and he spends Christmas with her family. Although he loves Fanny deeply and lives later in the same house as her family, he always behaves like a gentleman towards her and her family. The beauty of his soul is expressed in his poem and letters which are so stirring when read by actor Ben Whishaw who truly becomes the poet himself.
|Mr. Brown and the Brawne Family|
- Paul Schneider as Mr. Brown - Even though Mr. Brown is Keats' closest friend he is also very skeptical of Fanny Brawne's attachment to his friend as dislikes her distracting them from their writing. Mr. Brown is a rough Scotsman and not as much of a gentleman as Keats even though he usually means well. He looks after his friend when his health fails and kindly brings news of Keats to the Brawne family. His one great failing is briefly mentioned, when the Brawne's maid Abigail becomes pregnant he looks rather sheepish, later he visits the Brawne family bringing the baby and Abigail who is now his wife. Paul Schneider is very interesting in the role and portrayed this conflicted character well.
- Edie Martin as Margaret "Toots" Brawne - Fanny's youngest sibling is her 9-year-old sister Margaret Brawne who in this film is always called "Toots". She has curly red hair, is sweet, inquisitive and looks up to her older sister. Toots, so simply but charmingly played by young actress Edie Martin, is one of my favorite characters in the film. Like her sister she loves deeply and her good-bye remarks to Mr. Keats set me crying.
- Thomas Brodie-Sangster as Samuel Brawne - Fanny's middle sibling is 14-year-old Samuel Brawne who is earnest, intelligent and tries to be the man of the family. He greatly admires Fanny but it's hard for him to see her suffer disappointment when Keats' health fails. I've seen young actor Thomas Brodie-Sangster in a few other period set things, his talents added dimension and charm to the character of Samuel.
- Kerry Fox as Mrs. Frances Brawne - As a widow, Mrs. Brawne is a devoted mother raising her children single-handed. She is kindhearted and sensible and although I did like her I wondered a bit at her letting Fanny become such great friends with poets. I'd never seen Kerry Fox before but enjoyed her in the role.
- Claudie Blakely as Mrs. Maria Dilke - Mrs. Dilke is a great friend of Mrs. Brawne and it is the Dilke's house that the Brawnes and Mr. Brown rent halves of. She's a society lady and a bit of a gossip at times, she introduces Fanny to Keats and helps to advise Mrs. Brawne. Claudie Blakely is a familiar face in period dramas and her role here added some humor and quirkiness.
- Topper as The Cat - Some of my favorite scenes star the Brawne family's black and white pussy cat. I'd never seen a cat in such a prominent and frequent role in a period drama (except for the "Lacy" pussy cat in Cranford) so this was quite interesting to me. Topper the actor cat was purr-fect in the role! :)
|Toots and Samuel Brawne|
My Recommendations: This film is "rated PG for thematic elements, some sensuality, brief language and incidental smoking". Fanny & Keats do quite a bit of kissing and holding hands toward the end of the film. Also toward the end of the film there is one scene (pictured above) where the couple say good-bye for what they think might be the last time. John Keats has kept their relationship physically pure (minus the kissing) and even though Fanny tells him she'd do anything for him he refuses. With her family not too far away, the pair lie on the bed and talk. Also, as mentioned above (under Mr. Brown's character), the Brawne's maid is said to be pregnant out of wedlock but later marries the father. For these themes (even though they were done tastefully) I wouldn't recommend this film for younger viewers. This is a beautiful piece of cinematography with interesting historical facts, beautiful music, amazing poetry and gorgeous costumes. This film is a must see for older teens and adults interested in the time period and the historical characters.
For further reading about these historical characters & the film:
Have you seen Bright Star (2009)? What did you think of it?
Have you ever read any of John Keats' works? Which are your favorites?