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Bright Star (2009)

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The three-year romance between 19th-century poet John Keats and Fanny Brawne near the end of his life.


Jane Campion


Jane Campion, Jane Campion (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 16 wins & 52 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Abbie Cornish ... Fanny Brawne
Ben Whishaw ... John Keats
Paul Schneider ... Mr. Brown
Kerry Fox ... Mrs. Brawne
Edie Martin ... Toots
Thomas Brodie-Sangster ... Samuel
Claudie Blakley ... Maria Dilke
Gerard Monaco ... Charles Dilke
Antonia Campbell-Hughes ... Abigail
Samuel Roukin ... Reynolds
Amanda Hale ... Reynolds Sister
Lucinda Raikes ... Reynolds Sister
Samuel Barnett ... Mr. Severn
Jonathan Aris ... Mr. Hunt
Olly Alexander ... Tom Keats


It's 1818 in Hampstead Village on the outskirts of London. Poet Charles Brown lives in one half of a house, the Dilkes family the other. Through association with the Dilkes, the fatherless Brawne family knows Mr. Brown. Mr. Brown and the Brawne's eldest daughter, Fanny, don't like each other. She thinks him arrogant and rude; he feels that she's a pretentious flirt, knowing only how to sew (admittedly well as she makes all her own fashionable clothes), and voicing 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, but their relationship is slow to develop, in part, since Mr. Brown does whatever he can to keep the two apart. 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 little in the way of monetary ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A thing of beauty is a joy forever. See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for thematic elements, some sensuality, brief language and incidental smoking | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »



UK | Australia | France


English | French

Release Date:

9 October 2009 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Bright Star - Estrela Cintilante See more »


Box Office


$8,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

£207,881 (United Kingdom), 8 November 2009, Limited Release

Opening Weekend USA:

$189,703, 20 September 2009, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$4,444,637, 10 December 2009
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


French visa # 123588. See more »


The large blue butterflies featured in the 'butterfly' sequence are tropical and would not have been found in Britain at that (or any other recent) time. See more »


John Keats: [about writing poetry] If poetry does not come as naturally as leaves to a tree, then it had better not come at all.
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Crazy Credits

Ben Whishaw recites Keats' "Ode to a Nightingale" over the closing credits. See more »


Scotch Reel and Bonnie Highland Laddie
Written by Thomas Wilson (as Wilson)
From the Album "Regency Ballroom English Country Dance Music from the Era of Jane Austen"
Arranged and Performed by Spare Parts, Bill Matthiesen, Liz Stell, Eric Buddington
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Campion captures the sine curve of romantic experience
27 September 2009 | by Chris KnippSee all my reviews

Keats's romance with Fanny Brawne and final days are brought to lovely life in Jane Campion's new film, Bright Star. He had TB, though it's never named. When he had become very ill, they sent him to Rome. How foolish! Its climate isn't healthy, though it might have seemed so compared to Hampstead. The house where Keats lived in Hampstead for two years and was in love with Fanny Brawne and wrote some of his has just been restored.

Campion's film may not be a deep investigation of poetical genius, but it's delicate and alive and infinitely touching. There's a delightful litte rosy-cheeked girl, and good use is made of cats. The handsome Regency house was then divided into two, one side occupied by Keats and his landlord and possessive companion Charles Brown, the other by a family called Brawne. He fell in love with Fanny Brawne, and she with him. She is creative in her own way, a brilliant seamstress and designer of clothing who was inventive with fabrics. She didn't know much about poetry but to go by the film, she crammed the classics to be able to talk to Keats and read all his poems and memorized many passages. They recite them back and forth to each other, which may be artificial, but you don't mind, because the poetry is their love, it bloomed through their love and expresses it. Until he began coughing blood and ceased to write because he was suddenly too ill, Keats wrote some of his best work in Hampstead, in love with Fanny Brwwne.

They express their love in long sweet kisses, and walking hand in hand. This too is artificial but a fitting symbolic expression of the ecstasy and swoons of romantic poetry.

Sometimes the final credits define the experience of a film and of its audience. You have to love a film over whose final credits the wispy, winsome Whishaw is heard softly reading the whole of the Ode to a Nightingale, right to the end, and you have to respect an audience in an American cineplex when many of its members sit still to hear Keats's masterpiece down to the final words, "Was it a vision, or a waking dream?/ Fled is that music: – Do I wake or sleep?" Can you imagine having known a person with such extravagant gifts? Campion doesn't get too much in the way of our own imagining. She just lets it happen, lets the cats wander in and out, and thus captures the sine curve of romantic experience, its extremes of joy and despair that are so poignantly focused in the life of this penniless English boy who died at twenty-five, thinking himself a failure, and left behind some of the finest poetry in the language.

Abbie Cornish plays Fanny, Ben Wishaw John Keats, Paul Schneider plays Charles Brown. The little rosy-cheeked sister, Margaret "Toots" Brawne, is played by Edie Martin. Brown is the villain of the piece, because he jealously guards Keants from Fanny, whom he thinks is a silly girl who only sews and flirts. He's getting in the way of romantic love! And Schneider can't help but seem obtrusive here. Brown redeems himself later when, having gotten the sweet Irish servant girl Abigail (Antonia Campbell-Hughes) with child, he does the right thing and marries her.

Fanny's mother says she can't marry Keats, because he has no money, but he proposes, and she accepts, and when the liebestod begins, there's no way of denying his happiness or Fanny's, or the sadness and devotion that made her wear the gold engagement band for the rest of her life. Campion's film offers no profound insights into the poetic process. But how can it? Though Fanny asks Keats to give her "lessons" in poetry, its appreciation, like its creation, must be instinctive and cannot be explained, particularly not the ethereal romantic kind. Wishaw's delicate and enigmatic quality is a satisfying image to hang our fantasies on.

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