Movie Review by Debbie Winkler
Starring: Ben Whishaw, Abbie Cornish, Paul Schneider, Edie Martin, Thomas Sangster
Director: Jane Campion
Release Date: 18 September 2009
Length: 119 minutes
Movie Rating: PG
View Format: DVD
My Rating: 4/5 stars
“Critically acclaimed Australian filmmaker Jane Campion helms this drama detailing the passionate three-year romance between 19th-century Romantic poet John Keats (Ben Whishaw) – who died tragically at age 25 – and his great love and muse, Fanny Brawne (Abbie Cornish). Much of the story was inspired by Keats’s poetry and the actual love letters the pair exchanged. Thomas Sangster, Paul Schneider and Kerry Fox co-star.” — Netflix.com
I thought this movie was absolutely beautiful and I was entranced by the lovely poetry readings scattered throughout. This is a very slow-paced, thoughtfully presented romance movie between John Keats (Ben Whishaw) & Fanny Brawne (Abbie Cornish). I found it very interesting to see how the well-born men and women passed their time and entertained themselves during the 1800s. Sewing clothes, embroidery, writing poetry, singing, playing musical instruments, trading witty banter, admiring nature and other fairly temperate activities are what made up the bulk of their day. There is not a lot that happens in the movie, but it is still interesting and well worth watching.
I thought that the cinematography, costumes and sets were absolutely beautiful. Fanny supposedly makes most of her own clothes and I loved that she had her own sense of style and went out of her way to wear something a bit different. The acting was top-notch and I felt like all of the actors disappeared into their roles and made the movie interesting and relevant. Fanny’s younger siblings (Edie Martin & Thomas Sangster) were absolutely adorable and added so much charm to the film. They would have been used as chaperones in this day & age so that the young ladies would not be unattended. One of the best features of the film was the reading of original poetry and love letters between the two. This really elevated this movie into something special and memorable for me. I confess, I was not aware of the story of Keats & Brawne until I watched this movie, but I was familiar with some of Keats’ poetry before this. I think that anyone who enjoys a well-made historical romance film will find this movie well worth watching. I also anticipate that English teachers across the world will want to show this movie in their classrooms to help their students understand the era and what Romantic Poets lived like and did while they were creating their wonderful poetry. A wonderful, subtle film full of nuanced storytelling and a passionate, unfulfilled romance, this movie is a treat for true romantics of any age.
This movie is pretty clean, but there is some mild language, discussion of an out-of-wedlock pregnancy, scenes of smoking & drinking, and some mildly sensual scenes between the two romantic leads. I feel that this movie could be watched by younger children, but will be best understood by children ages 12 and up.