Tuesday, July 14, 2009

NZ International Film Festival: Bright Star

Opening night of the NZ International Film Festival is one of the best cultural events on the Auckland social calendar and my love affair with NZFF was reflected in this years romantic premiere masterpiece, Jane Campion’s ‘Bright Star’.

I see so much Jane Campion in her work. In The Piano she seemed to embody the search for identity in NZ and in her latest work as a film maker she is personified in the fastidious craftsmanship of Fanny Brawnes sewing skills in Campion’s retelling of Brawnes love affair with the greatest romantic poet ever, John Keats. Campion’s own brilliant eye for subtle detail is matched by Fanny’s exact fashion skills and a tender yearning for an 18th century love that seems magically innocent to 21st century cultural sensibilities.

Set in 1800’s London, the visual accuracy and sheer beauty of imagery is a frame by frame feast with acting that makes the dialogue believable and not archaic. Abbie Cornish’s skills helps her span the history gap by symbolizing the modern career woman’s attempt at finding love with a man whose status and wealth doesn’t meet hers, a dilemma many Sex in the City generation single women in their 30’s seem to identify with.

Ben Whitshaw’s portrayal of Keats gives insight to a literary icon leaving an appreciation of Keats poetry as graceful and layered as his performance and Paul Schneider is a scene stealing gem providing much of the brilliant wit as Keats protective best friend. Hat tip also to Kerry Fox who as the loving mother gives glimpses as to where Brawnes fierce independence and love of culture originates.

A beautifully well crafted film that reignites cinematic romance and adds another standing ovation to one of this country’s finest film makers.


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