Thoughts on Bright Star

Tuesday, August 24, 2010 2:44 AM By Simon

-Because my brain hates reading sentences, it regularly sums up everything in one word, and sticks with it. I will share the word for this film with you, gentle civilians: dignified.

-Oh, sure, Paul Schneider is brilliantly boorish (boorishly brilliant?), albeit with a sketchy Scottish accent and what appears to be a sympathy pregnancy belt. And, yes, I'd normally be ripping on it as shameless Oscar bait, had it won any Oscars. But is it because it hadn't, because I love the cast, the cinematography, or that I'm just in a mood, that I don't hate this movie at all?

-Who else cried when Fanny (Abbie Cornish, who should've kicked Sandra Bullock's ass at the Oscars) got word of John Keat's (Ben Whishaw) death, one either too painful or too contrived to show on screen (he, in fact, never appears after leaving for Rome, save for a brief shot of him staring out a window all soulful and junk)? Her screaming and sobbing in hysterics, at a loss for breath and crying for her mother, juxtaposed immediately by her quietly sitting at a table, sewing. Things shouldn't be allowed to be so sad.

-Abbie Cornish, who manages to convey the instant love Fanny feels for John without making it trite or silly.

-Seriously, Ben Whishaw is so skinny, I worry. Here, he rivals the delicacy of the film itself (I'm almost afraid to criticise it, I fear it'll snap into dust at the mere whisper of a harsh word), every walk, every smile, every line spoken soft. But you can never get inside of his head (this is Fanny's point of view, after all), and that might be its fault.

-He and Fanny never pick a side of masculine or feminine roles in the chaste relationship. John is a feminine guy, intelligent but easily distracted, burdened but never showing it, while Fanny is a masculine girl, opinionated and fearless and in half-awe of Keats.

-Paul Schneider rocks. His and Fanny's verbal sparring are the highlights, surely.

-Never been a fan of Jane Campion, but I'll make an exception.


Fitz said...

Schneider is really an underrated character actor. Hopefully he gets more parts like this.

August 24, 2010 at 9:20 AM
Wild Celtic said...

I love that you love this film. Interesting take on the relationship between the two, I hadn't viewed it that way before. I like it.
I did, indeed, sob when Fanny found out Keats had died. It practically broke my heart, even though it was merely a film. Lost love is one of the saddest things in the whole world. Especially if you've found a love like theirs.
Know something? I so enjoyed this movie that I went out and memorized the poem, "Bright Star." Am working on learning "When I have Fears That I May Cease To Be" but for some reason I get choked up reading it aloud and can never finish. I'm sentimental.

August 24, 2010 at 9:52 AM
Robert said...

Dignified! The perfect word to describe it. Yes, it is soooo beautiful and Abbie Cornish was just marvelous. I sort of go against everyone else though when I say that I wasn't a big fan of Paul Schneider. It was fine, but I didn't think it was too brilliant...perhaps a rewatch is in order? Just my opinion though! Haha.

August 24, 2010 at 2:11 PM
Hal said...

"Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever--or else swoon to death."

This movie made me feel mushy. In a really good way.

August 24, 2010 at 9:52 PM
Jose said...

Ugh that massive sob as she kneels after learning of John's death should be the thing Sandra Bullock wakes up to for the rest of her life as she sees her stolen Oscar sitting next to her bed.

Also, only Cornish could pull off that mushroom neck thingy.

August 26, 2010 at 8:08 AM
Yojimbo_5 said...

Big fan of the Campion.

Love the Schneider (I WANT that "brothers" movie I only imagine with him, Ron Livingston and Mark Rufalo).

And this was, indeed, a good movie to experience, where breaths are important, and the most sexually charged moment is with words ("You know I would do anything." "I have a conscience").

Cornish was superb.

August 26, 2010 at 9:50 AM
Anonymous said...

Sorry to be a downer but this movie didn't blow me away as I had hoped... I'm a big fan of period pieces and the story was one I'd easily fall in love with. Alas... it was just ok. However, Abbie Cornish was fantastic in this, and that scene you speak of was the only time I was truly moved and for that scene alone she deserved an Oscar! Y'know, I've never heard of Schneider before this one, but I like him in this role. Oh, Yojimbo is right, that's the most sexually-charged moment... Hollywood needs to learn that the sexiest sex scene isn't always one that's consummated.

August 26, 2010 at 11:38 AM
Simon said...

Fitz: Me too. I first saw him in Lars and the Real Girl, and since he's off that show, hopefully he'll get to some...uh, movies.

Wild Celtic: Keats has never been my cup of tea, but I just go kind of mental when I first read "When I Have Fears[...]". Definitely worth memorizing.

Robert: Ah, well, that's fine. It's always up for a rewatch.

Hal: Is there a bad kind of mushy?

Jose: You make me laugh. And everyone can pull off the mushroom. Mostly because nobody can deduce how awful it looks before it eats your face.

Yojimbo: They do look alike, don't they? Somebody get them a vehicle script!

flixchatter and Yojimbo: Everything in that movie is done with words. Tragedy, love, bitch-slapping...

flixchatter: Sorry to hear that. She deserves an Oscar so hard.

August 26, 2010 at 6:22 PM
Runs Like A Gay said...

I love what they do with Mozart's Serenade in B flat. Gorgeous choices throughout the film both stylisticall and emotionally - and proof the Academy seem to know nothing about good films.

August 28, 2010 at 3:21 PM