A period piece typified by restraint, delicacy and the romantic spirit of its renowned subject, Jane Campion’s Bright Star details the amorous three-year affair of 19th-century poet John Keats (Ben Whishaw) and Fanny Brawne (Cornish). In keeping with Campion’s career-long interest in investigating and depicting the female perspective, the film sticks closely to Fanny, a young girl with a knack for sewing and, as she confesses to Keats early on, only an amateur knowledge of poetry. Fanny’s gumption, independence and beauty endear her to Keats, a struggling young writer living with poet and benefactor Charles Brown (an adept Paul Schneider), and their feelings blossom despite Keats’ unemployed, penniless condition, which – as Fanny’s mother regularly reminds her – makes him an unsuitable candidate for marriage. Both this obstacle and the jealous interference of Brown, whose fondness for Keats’ writing borders on the possessive, frustrate Keats and Fanny’s attempts to be together, with Campion’s clear-eyed, beautifully composed images (including a recurring one of the couple pressed up against opposite sides of the same wall) evoking the social structures that threaten to keep them apart. Whishaw’s reserved performance and Cornish’s sensitive turn work in tandem to create a poignant portrait of longing and (largely unconsummated) passion. Ultimately more moving, however, is the film’s deft evocation of Keats’ prose through both integrated spoken-word passages that feel both natural and reverent, as well as via seasonal snapshots of the verdant English countryside that (along with numerous images of caressing hands) have a potent tactility.