Story

Bright Star is the story of the love affair between the poet John Keats and Fanny Brawne. Keats (Ben Whishaw) and Fanny (Abbie Cornish) are neighbours. Fanny is an accomplished seamstress from a family with reasonable means. John is a struggling poet whose first book was not well reviewed. When they first meet, they initially dislike each other. She does not understand poetry, and he thinks she spends her time idly sewing.

When not writing, much of John’s time is spent nursing his younger brother Tom (Olly Alexander), who is dying of TB, or consumption. Fanny makes some food for Tom, and John invites her to visit Tom to deliver it, hoping this will cheer up his brother. Through this experience and others, Fanny and John start to like each other. This blossoms into a strong and passionate love affair.

Their affair is complicated by the doubts of Fanny’s mother (Kerry Fox). She is a reasonable woman, but she feels John and Fanny can’t marry because John is poor and can’t support them. John’s friend Charles Armitage Brown (Paul Schneider) is also not keen on the relationship. He feels that Fanny is simply flirting with John. Charles is also a bit jealous of the relationship and fears that Fanny might interfere with John’s writing.

The relationship between Fanny and John is doomed anyway. John contracts TB as did his mother and brother.

Themes

Death and grief

Violence

There is some violence in this movie. For example, John and his friend Charles argue about Fanny.

Content that may disturb children

Under 8

In addition to the violent scene mentioned above, this movie contains some scenes that could scare or disturb children under eight. For example, Fanny is distraught when she hears that John has died. She collapses, cries loudly, and says to her mother that she can’t breathe.

From 8-13

Children in this age group could be disturbed by the scenes mentioned above. They might also be upset by Tom’s illness and then John’s, particularly by the coughing and blood-soaked cloths that are shown.

Over 13

Children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this movie. They might, however, be upset by John’s death and Fanny’s grief.

Sexual references

This movie contains some sexual references. For example, John’s friend Charles suggests that John should just ‘bed’ Fanny. Also, Charles gets a maid pregnant. They go away and return with their baby.

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

In this movie, characters sometimes drink wine with their meals.

Nudity and sexual activity

This movie contains some nudity and sexual activity. For example, in several scenes John and Fanny kiss and hold hands. They also sit or lie down together.

Product placement

None of concern

Coarse language

None of concern 

Ideas to discuss with your children

Bright Star is a slow-moving period romance that focuses on dialogue and scenery. It is a partially fictionalised account of the real-life relationship between John Keats and Fanny Brawne. It explores the relationship between the two main characters and also the social customs of the time.

The movie highlights the importance of loyalty in families and in other relationships. It could give you the chance to talk with your children about real-life issues including poverty and how death affects young people. Also, you could talk about how Fanny’s mother was unhappy about the romance between John and Fanny. Even so, she still invited John to dinner and treated him politely and affectionately. She showed tolerance and fairness.