For anyone who has read any work of John Keats and has been left breathless in the wake of his genius, this movie is for you. From the first note of the prelude to the last eloquent word softy spoken by Keats (Ben Whishaw) I was in awe and rapture of the beauty and truth of this movie. Jane Campion, writer and director, created a film that retold the three-year love story of Keats and Fanny Barwne. Throughout the coarse of the film, you feel like you are walking through a fog, a fog that is in essence the embodiment of Keats’ works. It was the combination of the beautiful music, flowing and rich fabrics of the wardrobe, and even how the characters moved around one another and the natural scenery that created this humbly, beautiful film.
I also commend Campion in her ability to incorporate actual text from letters of Keats into the dialogue. There is one scene in particular that is an exact representation of an account written by Charles Brown depicting the day Keats wrote “Ode to a Nightingale”. She interpreted the scene with such a quiet magnitude that it seemed seamless, yet if you’ve read the account, there would be no other way for it to be. It was perfect! Another scene that I can not help but mention, was when Keats was explaining the art of poetry to Fanny. He compared the act of reading a poem to jumping in a lake. It was an excellent analogy that encompasses his actual views on poetry that can be interpreted from his writings and letters.
The actors brought a fresh, youthful feel to the film that allowed you to connect with them and feel their joy along with their sorrow. Abby Cornish played Fanny with such effortless passion. She wore Fanny’s self-made fashion with pride and confidence, as well as honed the emotions of a maiden in an impossible love affair. Charles Brown was wonderfully played by Paul Schneider, he brought a crass, unlikeable balance to the characters. Brown, along with impending death, was the needed friction in the plot. Ben Whishaw recreated a John Keats that walked with a wise calm beyond his years and held a melancholy in his eyes that foretold his untimely death.
Now, for those of you that haven’t had the elating experience of reading and loving John Keats, this movie may just spark your interest. However, be warned that the tempo of the film is slow and steady, where the majority of the movie is set in one house. So if you don’t have an affinity for films filled with beautiful language and set in 19th century England you might want to steer clear. ☺ But as for me, I give this movie a giant thumbs up!
p.s. I want to thank Kim for her love of all things Keats, that assisted me in this post.