Eric and I went to see the BBC film, Bright Star, last week. The film outlines the torrid romance and tragic (and untimely) end to the life of the great poet, John Keats.
Now, I’m a total sucker for period films (big surprise), especially when they are done well. Of course, my opinion of “well done” seems to differ from many others. For instance, one of my favorite Jane Austen adaptations is the Frances O’Conner version of Mansfield Park – I think it’s just brilliant. But many do not. So, keep that in mind as you read on…
This movie moves at a true 19th-century pace…aka, it’s slow. Not that it’s boring. But there’s a great deal of silence; a lot of observing the characters as they wool-gather. While it might be reflective of the time period itself, I’m guessing this is part of the reason it does not have “universal” appeal…and by universal I mean, it has very limited engagements at a limited number of theaters in a limited number of cities.
While Keats and Fannie were brilliantly acted, I do have to say that Paul Schneider as Mr. Brown made Eric and I both crack up every time he was on screen. We love him in Parks & Recreation; did we buy him as a 19th Century Scottish rogue with homosexual tendencies? Not so much. However, he may have been the most memorable part of the movie for us – we continue to impersonate his performance almost a week later, just for laughs! An impression is an impression, I suppose, whether good or bad.
Fannie’s performance, however, was quite wonderful. She brought a rawness to the role that you rarely get in a glossy, Hollywood film, and I was brought to a state of sobbing by her in one of the film’s final scenes.
The screenplay: great. Costumes: wonderful and a far cry from the disaster that was Becoming Jane. Music: well-suited to the movie, though the “men’s glee” stuff did make us giggle. Do I recommend it? Definitely to those who have an interest in the time period, and especially to those who write in the time period. The setting alone is inspiration.