Sunday, December 20, 2009

Hollywood's new star

Saturday night plan to attend screening of "Bright Star" in my local cinema, Master CB dropped off at a friend's place for the night, boysenberry choc-top in hand, purple pashmina around shoulders (air conditioning at local cinema arctic, also necessary to feel stylish while watching the film). Seated between Mr. CB and Miss CB, in front of 4 elderly women speaking Hungarian and coughing, behind a group of 7 girls, probably around 12 years old, texting, munching on crisps and giggling. As the movie starts Mr. CB turns to me, "This isn't that film about the poet is it?" I nod, "You tricked me," Miss CB and I high-five each other.

I was, at first, excited by the type of audience this film had attracted. "How wonderful," I said, "to see both girls and elderly women enthusiastically waiting for the film to start. And just look at all the men," I pointed out to Mr. CB, "why...there's several gentlemen here wearing ties, and the younger men seem to be quite happily accompanying their arty-looking wives." As the lights dimmed, however, the girls' pleasant chatter continued, becoming annoying and rude. The booming voice of an anonymous man was heard - "Settle down now girls, settle DOWN." I nodded happily in Mr. CB's direction, I had predicted that many of the audience members would be English teachers.

The movie started, and there was Fanny Brawne (Abbie Cornish) sewing, I smiled happily to myself thinking of all my crafty blog-friends who would enjoy this scene. Each of the following scenes made me swoon with delight - the fabrics of her dresses, the colour combinations, the hats, the ribbons, at one point she wore a tiny jacket which seemed to be made out of a multitude of tiny granny squares, exquisitely precious granny squares mind you. The photography, the colours, the light, such a shame that Ben Whishaw (Keats) isn't really my type, but hey, I'm not a young woman now I am? That's when I noticed that the young women in the audience were not particularly enthralled either. The girls began talking and giggling, a few turned their phones on and I wondered if they were already texting their friends "CRAP FILM, KEATS FUGLY" One of the elderly women hissed at them quite aggressively but this just made them giggle even more maniacally, and then half of them left the cinema while the other half made their way to the very front of the cinema where they lay down beside the first row and continued to chat.

Not that the elderly Hungarian women sitting behind me were much better. They were coughing so often, and so loudly, that they made poor Keats look like he was merely suffering from a common head cold. During the scenes which were clearly meant to be heartbreaking, one of the Hungarians sighed dramatically, and although I am unfamiliar with the language, I was pretty certain from her tone that she was telling her friend that this film was not meeting her expectations. During the very last scene of the film that same woman let out a loud, sharp snort. There was no doubt whatsoever what that snort meant - "I've lived many years, I've loved and been loved and I KNOW some things about love, and this, right here, this is not the real deal."

So here's a film about the beauty and passion of first love, and it seemed to have failed to touch both the young and the old members of its target female audience. And what about ME you ask? What did I think of the film? Well.

I do think that I am the target audience Jane Campion had in mind when creating this film, and I did enjoy it, but it was hard work to do so. What I mean by that is that there is really no story here, he loves her, she loves him, and we all know he's going to die. This means that the film is an artistic meditation on young love, not a gripping story, not a multi-faceted characterisation, but a very very beautiful painting which just happens to move along a screen. If I had a bit more of a backbone perhaps I might say that "Bright Star" is boring, slow and dull, because that IS what I thought for two thirds of the film. But at the very end of the film, when Fanny is told that Keats has died, I found myself crying. Yes, I know, tears were POURING down my face and it came as a complete surprise as I hadn't, up until that scene, really cared at all about that pale, simpering, egotistical young poet. But it seems I did care a great deal about Fanny, and I cared even more about the feeling of loving someone with such passion. When she kneeled on the floor and sobbed, pointing to her heart and calling for her mother to come and help her because she couldn't breathe, well....I really believed her. Thank you Abbie Cornish, actress extraordinaire.

P.S. Miss CB and I would like to thank you all very very much for your kind comments and good wishes regarding the last post. It means so much to me to have this circle of encouragement and support and I send you my love in return!


Anonymous said...

I also would like to know what MasterCB thought about this movie.
You're a great reviewer, as usual.

Anonymous said...

I am SO EXCITED for this film. Keats is my favourite Romantic, and it's about time Fanny received some recognition. I will take my cues from your review and attempt to leave my cynicism at the door and enjoy the film for what it is.

Mary said...

And I intend to see it simply for its beauty..

Duyvken said...

I love your reviews.
Can't wait to see the film.

Suse said...

My film buddy texted me about 15 minutes ago to say she'd just seen this, it's beautiful, and that I am going to love it! And then I come here and find you've seen it tonight too :)

Anonymous said...

In the end, what we take from a film is how it touched us personally. Thank you for sharing what you took from it and what the texting teeny-boppers took and what the Hungarian coughers took.

fifi said...

I waited to read this until after I had seen it myself.

I loved it.
I loved every shot, every stitch, the way her clothes turned from jarring geometry and bight glaring coloours, into the colours of the butterfies wings:bronze, indigo , blue. When they last lie together, and form a butterfly shape, her dres a sweep of bronze folds.

I loved the poems woven in, I loved the outright way that it showed life and social convention. And the way she was not allowed to marry him.

And that crying scene: I had started weeping before her, so I had a head start. but when she pointed to here chest i knew exactly where she meant.

My son was almost in a coma (he is 12) and my daughter quite liked it, but I noticed she checked her phone at least three times.