Absent Emotion Dims Bright Star

This movie, about the romance between the poet John Keats and Fanny Brawne, has been playing for some time and still draws large audiences. The main characters are John Keats (Ben Whishaw), Fanny Brawne (Abbie Cornish), and Keats' best friend, Charles Brown (Paul Schneider). The film was written and directed by Jane Campion.

Keats, who is too poor to marry Fanny, ultimately becomes ill, probably dying of tuberculosis although the illness is not named. He eventually travels to Rome - shortly before his death - in the hope that the warmer climate will improve his health.

The New York Times critic A.O. Scott, who loved this period piece, wrote: "That Fanny and Keats must sublimate their longings in letters, poems and conversations seems cruel, but they make the best of it. As does Ms. Campion: a sequence in which, fully clothed, the couple trades stanzas of 'La Belle Dame Sans Merci' in a half-darkened bedroom must surely count as one of the hottest sex scenes in recent cinema."

I was in no way moved by this scene and found the film to be bland and boring. Wonderful attention is paid to detail, however, including clothing, furniture and highly-stylized behavior. What is missing is emotion.

I am sure many moviegoers will be attracted to this film, because of the "period" aspects and the poetry. PT told me that she and two female friends saw it together and loved it, but she knew I would not. She was right. I did not feel the poetic creation and amatory passion that so beguiled A. O. Scott.