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
The film shot for one day in Rome. Keats' funeral procession was the last scene to be filmed and the only scene of the film not shot in the UK. This exterior location, in Piazza di Spagna, is the actual residence Keats stayed, and died, in. It now houses the Keats - Shelley House museum. See more »
(at around 1h 16 mins) After Fanny Brawne says "You would have it that I kill Mr. Keats with affection?" Mr. Brown says "Perhaps you will," but the audio doesn't match up with his mouth movements. See more »
This is a classic case of "The Emperors New Clothes" - the hype makes everyone think it should be good, but if you look closely, there's not much there. The cast has the unenviable task of fighting a very poorly constructed script, and they do an enviable job. The performances, however, are one of the few things going for this film.
The script feels like a first draft, and comes off like a checklist of Keat's life. There is no dramatic arc. A good script will have elements established early on that pay off later in the script, but this has none of that. Anything that is introduced is dealt with immediately, and then you move on to the next item, so there is no sense of structure, dramatic tension or story arc. It literally feels like a checklist. The dialogue alternates between clumsy and awful, and the reading of the poetry always seems artificial and overwrought. I also wonder if a lot of footage ended up on the cutting room floor, as there are huge leaps in logic and there is little emotional continuity. There is no sense of the character's relationships to each other and I did not believe that there was any spark of true love between the two main protagonists! The film kept trying to tell you they were in love, but it just wasn't actually there (despite strong performances).
The costumes and sets are wonderful, but the camera work and lighting is dodgy. The film has numerous soft shots and strange use of hand-held, where the camera seems to accidentally move and bump with no sense of intent. The framing is often downright awkward and strange, and aside from a number of scattered "beauty shots", the cinematography is pretty poor.
This was quite a disappointing film, despite the hype. I feel like I am the little girl in Hans Christian Andersen's "The Emporers New Clothes" who says, "But, he's not wearing anything!"
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