Director Jane Campion holds the unique distinction of being the only woman director to ever win the Palm D’Or at Cannes some 16 years ago for best picture.
Her latest endeavor is an exquisitely crafted biopic about the unconsummated love affair between the Romantic poet John Keats and his neighbor Fanny Brawne. The slow- cutting pace will attract a rarefied stratum of the art house crowd who will witness a virtuoso performance from the Australian actress Abbie Cornish as Fanny. The legendary love letters that Keats wrote to her have all the import that is lacking in the communications of our cyber world. Fanny’s reaction to the news of Keat’s death at the tender age of 25 from TB is a blood curdling experience that will place her performance in Oscar contention. One must also revel in the performance of Ben Whisaw who renders a John Keats who is sensitive and impoverished to the point of pain. “There’s a holiness to the heart’s affection”, proclaims Keats to his Scottish friend Charles Brown (a forceful Paul Schneider) who tries his best to protect his genius friend from the emotionally charged Fanny. Craft contributions are first rate in cinematography, set design and dazzling in the costume category. This film was all the buzz at Telluride 09 as it brought to life the lyric sensibilities of a doomed poetic existence.