Forbidden Love

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Bright Star (2009)

New Zealand director Jane Campion brings her own poetic sensibility to the brief, desperate romance between John Keats (Ben Whishaw) and his neighbour Fanny Brawne (Abbie Cornish). The relationship between Keats and Brawne began in 1819, two years before the poet’s death from tuberculosis. One of the achievements of Jane Campion’s picture is to render this romance with an urgency not typically associated with either costume drama nor films about poetry. The love story isn’t used to explain what Keats wrote in that period. Instead Campion is interested in the point where life and art become indivisible, and her stylistic choices are modelled on this idea. Sound and song spill over from one lovingly detailed scene to the next, while Greig Fraser’s fluid cinematography takes its cue from Keats, who clambers high above the forest floor, or reflects on a dream in which he is floating above the treetops.

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