When I'm sad, where I often find the most relief is in a dark movie theater. Since my childhood. Maybe that was one of the few places, surrounded by darkness and people restraining their tongues (at least for the most part, especially back then) where I could fully focus on the art object before me—the film.
So I went to the movies tonight. Many friends had recommended BRIGHT STAR, a film I already wanted to see, and it's playing right up the street from my apartment in the local movie theater so...
It's one of the most intense movies ever made about love. And it's rated PG. Which only made it more intense.
As you probably already know, it's the latest Jane Campion movie, the brilliant Australian filmmaker who made one of my all time favorites AN ANGEL AT MY TABLE (though she's better known for THE PIANO).
Campion is one of the few people who truly earns the right to the often abused "a film by..." since she not only directed BRIGHT STAR but wrote and produced it as well.
No movie I've seen this year (or in most years) that concerns itself with the love between two adults can touch the passion and precision of this one. BRIGHT STAR is at the top of my list for any awards for 2009, beginning with Campion for writing and directing, Ben Whishaw for the part of John Keats, Abbie Cornish as his love Franny Brawne, Kerry Fox as her mother and Paul Scheinder as Keats' friend Charles Brown (a performance that challenges almost every expectation for this "supporting" role).
If you haven't seen it, don't wait for the DVD or to see it on TV, if you can, see it in a theater on a large screen in the dark where the beauty of some of the scenes will overwhelm you, at least they did me.
I laughed out loud, probably confusing the few other people in the theater, at some scenes, just because I was so delighted with how wonderfully they were framed and shot and directed. Exquisite.
Maybe too exquisite for those with a more jaundiced eye (and ear for that matter, as some of the dialogue is just lines from Keats's poems), but for me, it was two hours of movie heaven, not escape but affirmation of a lifetime of aesthetic pleasure from poetry and films and now here, tonight, combined into one deeply satisfying evening's experience.
Thank you Jane. I needed that.