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Cannes 2009: Bright Star shines

Palme d’Or winner Jane Campion (The Piano) returned to the Croisette with a similarly sensitive, sensual tale, Bright Star.

The story of a secret love affair between penniless poet John Keats (Ben Whishaw) and fashion student Fanny Brawne (Abbie Cornish), it is a warm, poignant tale that bursts with rich language and exquisite visuals.

It also contains a fair share of heartache, with John and Fanny’s pure love skidding into areas of obsession and co-dependency, while the couple’s friends – and society, no less – look on with clucking disapproval.

Throw the stain of Keats’ illness into the mix and it’s clear that Bright Star is going to be more than an oh-so-pretty tale of intoxicating wordplay and nodding flowers.



A good deal warmer than Campion’s other period heart-wringer The Portrait Of A Lady, Bright Star does nothing new (if it wasn’t based of fact, it would be accused of adhering too closely to formula) but it does it very well, displaying real craft and benefiting from terrific performances.

Cornish and Whishaw here cement their reputations as two of the best young actors around, while Paul Schneider threatens to steal the movie as Keats’ friend and provider Brown – possessive, spiteful and a terrible snob.

It would be a huge surprise if Bright Star garnered Campion her second Palme d’Or, but its presence in the competition is a welcome one.

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