The film Bright Star was directed by Jane Campion and tells the love story between John Keats, an infamous poet played by Ben Whishaw, and Fanny Brawne, his lover played by Abbie Cornish. The movie is supposed to serve as a biographical piece that retells Keats’ life and tragic end. However, this movie is not anymore engaging than if you were to read two hours about Keats’ life. The amount of positives found in Bright Star can not even begin to make up for the flaws within the film.
The first scene of the movie is where I encountered an issue that would remain throughout the entire film. The audio and soundtrack of Bright Star are terrible; there is no other way to put it. I do not believe a film with a five-million dollar budget allowed for this level of audio production. The very first scene where Fanny is shown sewing features a track that is atrocious, and this is when I knew this film was going to be poor. The two voices on the track do not complement each other at all, and this is partly because of the failure to mix the audio properly. The music was far too loud and sounded like harsh, raw vocals, which is not exactly ideal for background music. The music throughout this whole film sounded similar and included grating vocals that did not complement each other at all. Another audio problem that plagued Bright Star was just the volume. Even in scenes without music, the audio was horrible. In a scene where Brown, Keats’ best friend, was imitating an ape, the only sound that could be heard were his obnoxious screeches instead of the conversation between the two main characters. I focused more on how to fix the sound of this film instead of actually listening to it.
The cinematography of Bright Star is another negative that makes the film drag. Most of the shots featured in the film are either painfully bland or just unnecessary. Scenes feature a dull, dark background that leave the audience disinterested. The only exceptions to this are the scenes that include nature, but most of these scenes are just unnecessary. There are plenty of scenes that show Fanny’s sister, Toots, silently walking through the woods with no context at all. These scenes really make me question what exactly Campion, the director, was thinking. The filmmakers wanted to prevent a bland environment; however, they ended up creating an unnecessary run time. The lighting of the scenes was also not great either; the characters’ faces either appeared extremely pasty at times or were casted into darkness. Once again, I find it hard to believe Bright Star had millions of dollars funding it.
The acting of this film was probably the worst part, which is not good considering the whole point behind a movie is acting. The scene that really shows the awful acting was when Keats attempted to confront Brown after he sent Fanny a valentine letter. Whishaw wanted to show anger but it came across as forced and his shove resembled a toddler pushing an adult. His eyes traveled away from Brown’s face constantly and the entire scene was unbelievable. More of the terrible acting came up in the “love” scenes between John and Fanny. It felt more like the actors were exchanging breaths rather than kissing. Their affection did not feel real and after John died, Fanny’s cries just came across as loud rather than painful. Most of the acting just felt forced and it made the film irritating to watch.
To put it simply, this movie is a waste of time. It drags for far too long and is paced terribly. I honestly feel that a high school film team could have done something better. If you want to learn about John Keats you are better off doing your own research or trying to find another film. I would give this movie a rating of one out of five stars; the only reason why I gave this one star was because of the humor provided by the horrible acting. If you enjoy subpar films that run for far too long, then Bright Star is the movie for you.
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