Home' LOTL : January 2010 Contents 34 LOTL Magazine • lotl.com
By Belinda Hazelton
BRAN NUE DAE
Directed by Rachel Perkins
Broome, the summer of '69; a young boy,
Willie (Rocky McKenzie), is spending his
last night at home before being sent to Catho-
lic boarding school in Perth, for a chance at
what his mother believes will be 'a better life'.
All Willie wants is to ﬁsh, be with his mates
and further his friendship with Rosie (Jessica
Mauboy), but being a good son, he complies
with his mother's wishes. He soon discovers
the religious school and the city are not for
him, and after a minor prank, he is back on the
road, headed for home, his girl and whatever
punishment awaits him.
Adapted from the stage musical of the same
name, the story of Bran Nue Dae was inspired
by the early life of musician and writer Jimmy
Chi. Only 12 of the original 26 songs have
been included in the ﬁlm, which nonetheless
is ﬁlled with great spirit and hope.
Although there are some shaky moments,
overall, the great cast, wonderful cinematogra-
phy from this remote part of Western Australia
and its sense of optimism make this another
very worthwhile local ﬁlm from 2009.
Directed by Jane Campion
In 1818, near the Hampstead Heath, the Brawne
family members' were neighbours to writers John
Keats (Ben Whishaw) and his friend and patron,
Charles Brown. The eldest daughter, Fanny (Ab-
bie Cornish), was soon attracted to Keats, but all
those around the pair deemed their relationship
to be misguided. Fatherless, Fanny's means were
very limited while Keats was poor and seemingly
without prospects. Resisting all opposition, the
love between the young couple grew and she in-
spired him to compose some of the most exquisite
Romantic poetry ever written.
With a six year gap since her last ﬁlm, antici-
pation for writer/director Jane Campion's long-
awaited follow-up is high. Sadly, this reviewer
found herself disappointed by this strangely un-
moving (especially given its subject matter) ﬁlm.
Campion also wrote the screenplay for Bright
Star, partly based on the biography of Keats by
Andrew Motion. She elected to tell the story of
Keat’s ﬁnal years through the eyes of his lover,
Fanny Brawne, thus giving a refreshing feminist
perspective to the usual male-dominated approach
to historical ﬁgures. Predictably, the ﬁlm is beauti-
ful to look at, and also to listen to, with signiﬁcant
pieces of Keat's writing being incorporated into
the dialogue, and over the ﬁnal credits. And it is
worth seeing for those pleasures alone.
If only the casting had been done with equal
skill. Abbie Cornish looks the part, with her col-
ourful, ﬂouncy clothes and bonnets but she fails to
convince as the spirited Fanny. This is surprising,
given the strength of her performances in ﬁlms like
Candy and Somersault. She seems self-conscious,
and as she is on screen so constantly, this self con-
sciousness carries over to the ﬁlm as a whole.
And while Ben Whishaw is entirely credible as
the frail Keats, with his tubercular cough and grey
pallor, his limp performance is not engaging and
ultimately becomes tiresome.
And why has Campion introduced the notion
of some repressed sexual feeling on the part of
Charles Brown for his sickly friend? This seemed
like an unnecessary distraction.
While this story of doomed love is deﬁnitely
worth telling, rather surprisingly, justice has not
been entirely done to it here.
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