The last two films I have seen were both absolutely fantastic, and could not be more different. The first, The Hurt Locker, I can't even write about. It's so good, so perfect, that you should just see it as soon as humanly possible.
The second, Bright Star, I saw two nights ago. If you have ever yearned for flower-filled fields of romance, if you've ever read a poem by one of the Romantics and sighed, if you've ever been 15 or 18 or 21 and in love (and probably a woman, though not must be one)... SEE THIS MOVIE.
I will not reveal any spoilers. Unless you didn't know that the poet John Keats died at age 25, and then I will be sharing that spoiler. So there.
The film is subtly erotic... while being rated PG and totally chaste, and totally appropriate for tweens, with nary a French kiss to be seen... it is incredibly swoon-worthy and romantic and captures the overwhelming experience of new love. The director, Jane Campion, is so clearly having fun behind the camera - she is excellent at her job, and the sense of playfulness, her mastery as a director, and plain ol' exuberant joy shines through. Even for those who might have a tendency to say, "But I can't tell one director from another,"... I would be surprised to hear them, no matter how cinematically unsure, say that about Bright Star.
Campion continually cuts the scenes just before they feel over, and it's like being a teenager again - where you want to savor the event but the party's over, time's up, before you feel done. It reminded me a bit of blinking and missing something, or closing your eyes because it's too perfect and painful to full absorb.
An excellent historical portrait of why love couldn't matter as much as money... an Oscar-worthy performance from Abbie Cornish (one of whose scenes was almost traumatizing in it's emotion)... a loving visual postcard to springtime in England... actor Paul Schneider who is sorely underused in widely distributed films... insight into the life of John Keats while he was living... a calmly paced and quietly memorable film all around... Bright Star isn't for everyone, but I confidently believe it will stand the test of time and I felt absolutely, 100%, thoroughly satisfied at its end... and THAT is what a good romance film is about. Take your sexist, simplistic rom-coms and give me heartbreaking Romantic, poetic love every time.
PS. There is a shot in this film involving a spring breeze and an in-love young woman. I defy you to not be aroused, in one way or another, by its execution and perfect beauty.