Jamie recommended this movie to me a few weeks ago because it was pretty, and show knows how much I like pretty movies. Well guess what: it’s gorgeous. Bright Star was directed by Jane Campion, a New Zealander currently living in Australia with a BA in art (specifically painting). The movie was Oscar nominated for costume design and nominated/given many other awards for Cinematography and Editing.
Facts being out of the way, let me tell you why I’m so taken with this film. It looks like 18th/19th century Dutch interior paintings come to life, but set in England, showing the life and love of Jon Keats. There is a stunning persistence on framing shots, almost in a square, and a seeming fixation on door jambs, thresholds, windows, natural forms, or expansive stark walls. The subjects are held either by these tight frames or by color—richly chromatic costumes separated from a bland expanse.
I almost want to diagram out each shot, which have all obviously been carefully chosen. When not set apart via architecture or color, the action of a shot is sometimes acted through this strong, recurrent, diagrammatic horizon or strata that appears in shot after shot, whether in the base of the house or in a field of lavender.
As a whole, the film is shot almost as a secret, with long fixed frames or extremely close to the subjects with some small objects (i.e. flowers) between yours and their faces. The subtlety of their costuming and the tightness of the cinematography make up for a lack of writing quality, almost by keeping you intimate and tense. Sometimes surreal, there are also random, scattered long shots of objects or characters just for the indulgent aesthetic of something pretty and interesting. Fascinating and beautiful. Enjoy.