Friday, February 5, 2010

Bright Star

This is the most emotionally wrenching movie I have seen in a great while. It is not rare for me to cry at a movie (ask almost anyone). It is rare for me to cry this hard and this long at a movie. I couldn't speak for a full 20 minutes after the movie.

But before I talk you out of watching "Bright Star" with all this crying talk, let me persuade you of its beauty. This movie was not just well written and well acted. It was visually stunning. The story is as gray and dim as any story out there, but it is told here with brilliance and light. The walls in all the houses are bright white. Fanny's clothes are all bright colors. The flowers in every field are bright and happy. The butterflies flit around her room and land in strategically beautiful places. It's dreamy and lovely and everything a happy love story should be.

That's what makes the ending so tragic. We all know the story - John Keats (Ben Whishaw) is a poet - penniless, but brilliant, and supported by friends. He happens upon Fanny Brawne (Abbie Cornish), and his poetry comes back to him. He flourishes under her influence; he finds his poetic voice. In Keats, Fanny finds meaning in life - no more silly, frivolous balls and flirting. Through letters and language they form a permanent connection and bond.

The passion of their love story is unequaled. She is constant and true and never failing. But it is not the passion of their love that made me so emotional. Passion ebbs and flows and rises and falls and expresses itself in many ways - love, hate, anger, bliss. In that respect, passion is probably not the right word. What I found so moving was that their love was steady. It never faded, it was never questioned. How could she survive the loss of that love? How could she wear his ring forever, never removing it? How could she stand the pain of constant reminder? How is it that she never moved on - even just as a way to dull the pain?

I knew I wanted to see this movie because it's a period piece - of a time in history that I love. I knew there would be amazing clothes and walks in the woods. But it is about Keats. A poet. I'm not one who loves or even likes poetry. It's not real to me. I don't feel it when I read it. And that's weird to me - words have always been really important to me. But Keats makes a distinction in the movie between poetry and wit. I think I prefer wit - cleverness, humor, smarts. Poetry is truth, beauty and pain. I think I'm too shallow for poetry. But I'm not too shallow to feel things. And I felt this movie.

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