Finally, we have a broader choice in the NSW Film Industry for film production space. Callan 201 is fully operational and at present inhabited with Blackfella Films and their successful, Logie award winning TV series, Redfern Now, now in its second series
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Bright Star review
[Thu 06/05/2010 02:34:24]
By Nick Dent
Action movie addicts who do evil in this life should be forced to watch Bright Star over and over in the next. Because it seems to have been laboratory-assembled from all those things that annoy people most about costume dramas. It's slow - oh yes, it's slow. There are pretty frocks aplenty; Abbie Cornish changes costume so often it's almost a running gag. There are close-ups of butterflies perching on half-oranges, and characters who say things like "There is a holiness to the heart's affections." It may be a gross exaggeration to say that period films contain little but chaste lovers reciting poems to each other before dying gracefully of consumption, but in Bright Star, this actually happens.
It's Hampstead, London in 1818. John Keats (Ben Whishaw), 23 years old and yet to be recognised as one of the greatest of all the romantic poets, falls in love with his 18-year-old neighbour, Fanny Brawne (Cornish). This vexes Brawne's mother (Kerry Walker) because Keats has no money. It also displeases Keats' close friend Charles Brown (a magnetic Paul Schneider), because Brown knows that an attachment will force his comrade to take up a vulgar profession such as medicine and turn away from verse-making.
The passionately unconsummated affair that unfolds sees Keats and Brawne exchanging notes, walking in the countryside, reading poetry, and taking part in lovingly constructed tableaux reminiscent of 19th century paintings (as photographed by Greig Fraser, the brilliant lensman of Last Ride). They endure the agony of separation, first through choice and then through death. Life in Georgian England was cruelly short but also cruelly boring, and Campion captures the monotonous rhythms of a time when to receive a letter could be the highlight of one's week.
Sad and anaemic as it is, there's much that is mesmerising about Bright Star. Ben Whishaw's Keats is lean, saturnine and tortured; a chic geek, he has narrow, coal-black eyes that dart back and forth distractedly when recalling a poem, as if reading the lines from a ghostly autocue. Sloe-eyed Abbie Cornish, as the dressmaker who struggles to penetrate the mysteries of Keats' verse and captures his heart, is ravishing as always. This is yet another film that harnesses her abilities both to gaze meaningfully into the distance and break down in disturbingly deep fits of anguish. I hope for her sake she does a comedy next.
Campion's movie is rooted in the gritty realities of 19th century existence: a world where life would be unbearable without the power of the imagination. She approaches every scene in a fresh, off-kilter fashion, less like a historian than a poet herself. That's the secret to Bright Star's slow-burning power: it's not so much a biopic as an ode.