Jane Campion, master sensualist
It’s been a while since Jane Campion’s last movie, so I’d almost forgotten what a stunning visual stylist she is. All that rushed back when I saw “Bright Star” last night. From the moment Abbie Cornish strode across the English countryside in her bright red getup, topped by an extravagant chapeau, I knew we were in for a visual treat. The movie is very painterly, with beautiful shot after beautiful shot. But that’s not the only way “Bright Star” appeals to the senses: the movie also served up aural delights, playing off the stillness and repressed desires with ambient noise. Rarely have rustling reeds been so evocative.
The director, who wrote the screenplay, even has John Keats, one of the two doomed lovers, explain the importance of immersing in senses and feeling when reading poetry, as opposed to spending too much time trying to figure them out. This when Cornish’s Fanny Brawne comes to him for poetry lessons and flirtation.
Campion gave her last movie, “In the Cut,” a more lurid look and feel, which matched the story. “Bright Star,” which received strong reviews at Cannes, harkens back to Campion’s “The Piano,” in its period story of repressed longing. I’m just glad she made another movie.