Bright Star

Rated 4.0

Writer-director Jane Campion recounts the passionate, unconsummated love affair between the doomed young poet John Keats (Ben Whishaw) and the flirtatious teenage girl next door, Fanny Brawne (Abbie Cornish). Campion’s script is faithful to the known facts of the romance (which remained unknown by the public until 1872, more than 50 years after Keats’ death), and she handles it with a perceptive delicacy that her earlier movies (The Piano, Portrait of a Lady) would hardly suggest, seamlessly blending excerpts from Keats’ letters with imagined conversations among Keats, Brawne and their circle. As Fanny, Cornish suggests a depth that Keats’ friends didn’t see in her, while Whishaw’s poet is tender and hesitant, almost afraid of his own passion, even as he’s driven to embrace it as the wellspring of his genius.