Oh, look what I done did! It’s the ol’ bait ‘em with the promise of fifty-three-year-old director butt and give ‘em Abbie Cornish trick!
Ah, but who wouldn’t want to be pillow’d upon the Somersault star’s ripening breast? Campion, the visually gifted but oft narratively challenged director, is hoping everyone shares this enthusiasm, as she’s just cast the fetching young ingénue in the role of Fanny Brawne for her upcoming John Keats biopic, Bright Star. Starring alongside Ms. Cornish will be the hotter than Georgia asphalt Ben Whishaw, who was last seen as a murdering scent hound in Tom Tykwer’s insane Perfume: The Story of a Murderer. Obviously, he’s playin’ the unhealthy verse scribbler.
Bright Star, which takes its name from one of Keats’s most famous poems, will depict the writer’s brief – everything was brief in this poor boy’s life; he died at twenty-five* – love affair with Brawne, about whom he once exclaimed, "Every thing I have in my trunks reminds me of her." I may have misquoted for crass comedic effect. Brawne was actually the daughter of Keats’s next-door neighbor, and, let’s be honest, whose teenage fantasies didn’t center on this kind of convenience. They were engaged to be married in 1819, but Keats was dead by 1821. Brawne went on to marry some other dude, but she remained faithful to the memory of Keats by always wearing the ring he gave her. How sweet if you’re not the guy she ended up with.
In all seriousness, Campion is a natural for this material. Though it’s arguable that her frequent collaborator Laura Jones enforced a necessary structure upon Campion’s wild flights of visual poetry (never more breathtaking than in An Angel at My Table), I’d rather the director get lost in the feverish intensity of Keats’s verse than attempt a straight biopic. Since Campion is thus far the only credited writer, this promises to be a very pretty, if pretty inscrutable affair. Sounds good to me.
Pathé is producing. An American distribution deal has yet to be finalized.
*This reminds me that I once saw Austin Pendleton play Keats in a one-man Off-Broadway show. You know, the character actor who played Max in The Muppet Movie? Yeah. He was fifty-six at the time. And awesome.