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It's 1818 in Hampstead Village on the outskirts of London. Poet Charles Brown lives in one half of a house, the Dilkes family who live in the other half. Through their association with the Dilkes, the fatherless Brawne family know Mr. Brown. The Brawne's eldest daughter, Fanny Brawne, and Mr. Brown don't like each other. She thinks he's arrogant and rude, and he feels that she is pretentious, knowing only how to sew (admittedly well as she makes all her own fashionable clothes), flirt and give opinions on subjects about which she knows nothing. Insecure struggling poet John Keats comes to live with his friend, Mr. Brown. Miss Brawne and Mr. Keats have a mutual attraction to each other, a relationship which however is slow to develop in part since Mr. Brown does whatever he can to keep the two apart. But other obstacles face the couple, including their eventual overwhelming passion for each other clouding their view of what the other does, Mr. Keats' struggling career which offers him ... Written by
I saw this film tonight, and in my eyes, it is a perfect film. Beautifully acted by all involved, (several times during the film I found myself thinking 'Abby Cornish is amazing!", despite not being a huge fan before), and stunningly shot, it contains some of the most beautifully cinematic scenes i have ever seen committed to film. Campion does a wonderful job of communicating Fanny' emotional state through the composition, particularly in one scene where the wind is blowing the curtain in her bedroom. The light and colour are fresh and gorgeous and the costumes and design add to the overall piece without being distracting, which is just what you want from a period piece.
But in the end, it is above all a wonderful story, well told. A deeply romantic tale, the story of Fanny and Keats could easily have become a mawkish, overly sentimental piece. But through her wonderfully naturalistic dialogue, her use of humour and light touch, and her restrained story telling (she never lets a scene go on one line too long) Jane Campion has created a heart wrenching film which I cannot fault. The characters are real and fully rounded, you feel the joys and the pain with them, and where I think she really succeeds is by making their love affair extraordinary and yet at the same time deeply ordinary. It stirred up my own personal experiences of love and loss and you would have to have a heart of stone not to shed a tear at the end. Lovely lovely film, and what cinema should be all about.
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