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I am still working my way through a stack of DVDs that represents those quiet indie gems that didn’t make it to most theaters last year, This week I came across a biopic about poet John Keats , “Bright Star”. It’s a lush, leisurely melodrama from director Jane Campion ( “The Piano”) that positively oozes romance. If you are a fan of “Pride and Prejudice” and other period romantic dramas, this movie is certainly a must-see and is a perfect choice for Valentine’s Day movie watching with someone special.


“Bright Star” traces the last few years of the moody poet’s life and his unlikely relationship with a woman who became his muse, Fanny Brawne. At the beginning of the movie, she is more interested in fashion and he is more interested in loftier pursuits, yet the sparks fly and their influence on each other’s lives soon becomes undeniable.
Their relationship was not exactly acceptable to friends and family -her family wanted her to marry someone with material means and his friends didn’t want anything to distract him from his art -but it didn’t stop the two from falling deeply in love with each other. Even though they lived right next door to each other, the couple’s communication was often limited to smuggled notes, illicit walks under the pretense of babysitting a sibling, and the occassional dinner gathering. However, when Keats becomes gravely ill all pretense of hiding the relationship is put aside as they cherish what will ultimately be their final days together.
“Bright Star” does not have the sparkle and wit of a “Pride and Prejudice” and is perhaps a little too ambitious in its scope, but it has its own magical moments – not the least of which is a stunning scene featuring butterflies. The leisurely pace and sumptuous images in the film combine to create a portrait of longing and desire that is still profoundly chaste and noble. So while this movie is not the most upbeat Valentine’s Day movie you could rent, “Bright Star” is a bittersweet reminder of the value found in taking a risk to love someone else deeply and purely -even when that love is destined to come to an end.

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