A compelling romance from a master filmmaker

Where do poets find inspiration? In the lush and lovely Bright Star (available on DVD 1/26), from writer-director Jane Campion (The Piano), the answer for a young John Keats comes in the form of Fanny Brawne, the girl—quite literally—next door.

Brawne (played with clear-eyed perfection by Abbie Cornish) met Keats (Ben Whishaw) in 1818 when he was just 23 and struggling to earn a living through his writing. The pair had plenty of obstacles, including his lack of income and an ethically ambiguous romantic foil in the form of Keats’s friend and protector (played by Paul Schneider). But this is a movie about a Romantic poet, and so Keats and Brawne’s romance (while chaste) is certainly intense, filled with the kind of yearning that gives first love a good name. Plus, the English countryside has never looked more breathtakingly beautiful as it does here, thanks to sensory-overload cinematography.

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