Jane Campion’s splendid costume drama Bright Star was largely overlooked at this year’s Oscars (it picked up one nomination for Costume Design). Overshadowed by Kathryn Bigelow’s testosterone-fuelled The Hurt Locker, it’s the kind of movie that would have probably caught the attention of the Oscar electorate in previous years, as did Campion’s The Piano, which was nominated for eight awards in 1994 (including Best Director for Campion) and won three (for Holly Hunter, Anna Paquin and Campion’s screenplay).
This neglect is a shame as Bright Star is far more than just another frock flick. Telling the story of the tragically short love affair between romantic poet John Keats and his young neighbour Fanny Brawne, the inspiration for some of Keats’s most beautiful poetry and letters, the film is quietly restrained yet surprisingly moving and always visually ravishing. Without being in any way anachronistic, Ben Whishaw and Abbie Cornish bring a freshness and conviction to their roles as Keats and Brawne, while Campion shakes off costume drama frippery to deliver real lyricism and emotional depth.
Released on 8th March.