Pop Culture

Dinner & a Movie: Bright Star

June 24, 2011


Our videographer Elena Parker -- a serious food and film buff -- is really good at throwing movie-themed dinner parties. She and her friends cook together, serve up, and eat while they watch.

We've asked her to start sharing the menus for her favorite films with us -- here's the latest installment: Jane Campion's sensuous romance Bright Star.

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Bright Star


"The point of diving in a lake is not immediately to swim to the shore, but to be in the lake... to luxuriate in the sensation of water. You do not work the lake out. It is an experience beyond thought."

The lake.

t;Here, the lake is a stand in for poetry, as lyrically explained by romantic poet John Keats. But 'the lake' could really be anything with artistic intentions: music, painting, food... Bright Star.

Bright Star  Bright Star

It is not easy for someone like me to pick a favorite film, so let me just say that I find it embarrassing that it has taken six installments of this series for me to get to director Jane Campion's simply brilliant take on the romance of John Keats and Fanny Brawne (played by Ben Wishaw and Abbie Cornish, respectively). Bright Star is their love story. Yet, in a lot of ways, it transcends that mere classification. What makes the movie thrilling to watch is that it really captures the feeling of a romance. It is pitch-perfectly poignant at every turn, making you feel intimately connected to each phase of Keats and Fanny's relationship: from their initial meetings, to their misunderstandings, to their love-struck ramblings and eventual parting before Keats's untimely death.

Even more compelling is that the relationship is actually a triangle-- Mr. Brown (Paul Schneider, with an impeccable accent), Keat's writing partner and friend, making the important third point. Brown watches the lovers descend into romantic oblivion, constantly trying to keep hold of his own claim on Keats, the brilliant poet that he will never be.

Bright Star

So far, this flick may seem like a downer. I will cede you the point that it is... intense. But the film doesn't merely let you wallow and that is its coup. Campion fills the frame with butterflies when Fanny experiences the raptures of love. Keats literally floats on top of the trees. Brown clashes with all around him, delightfully plaid against a field of popping tulips. And, yet, you never once leave the meticulously designed representation of 19th century England. Nature manifests emotion. Colors and music drip both authenticity and surreal whimsy. Inside each simply composed frame, Campion somehow manages to make the characters' feelings come alive.

Bright Star  Bright Star

But, listen: it's important not to think about it. For two hours, let this film take you on a ride. Luxuriate in the sensation of celluloid. And, if you feel up to it, consume the following meal, in which a more profound experience is hidden behind rustic simplicity.


Dinner with Keats

Ginger Sangria by RebeccaP

Ginger Sangria


Dandelion Green Salad by aargersi

Dandelion Green Salad


Spatchcocked and Braise-Roasted Chicken by amanda

Spatchcocked and Braise-Roasted Chicken

Lemon Posset by mrslarkin

Lemon Posset

(You've heard me rave before about the fabulous IFC Center and it just so happens that they are offering a treat beyond treats on July 14th, when filmmaker Miranda July [Me and You and Everyone We Know] will speak at a movie night with a screening of Jane Campion's short films. You'll get to see my personal favorite, Passionless Moments and also Peel, which won the Palme d'Or for Best short Film at Cannes. You won't regret going.)

See what Elena's serving with The Age of Innocence, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, City Lights, Jaws, and Singin' in the Rain.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • MTrue
  • kellyrossiter
  • francesca gilberti
    francesca gilberti
  • sexyLAMBCHOPx
  • mrslarkin
Currently a Creative Technologist working over at Campfire. Recent grad of NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program, where I played around with interactive video and mobile storytelling. Former video and editing accomplice here @ Food52. In other lives: worked on the HBO Documentary Make Me Young: Youth Knows No Pain & The New York Public Library’s Biblion: The Boundless Library. At the moment, I'm really into feta.


MTrue June 29, 2011
It's an obliteratingly romantic movie. If you're so inclined, it will make your throat clench...so the flavors need to be pure and clean and bold, to bore through. This menu looks like just the thing...I love the lemon posset. Perfect.
kellyrossiter June 24, 2011
Oh my, I loved this film, but I remember more about the clothing than food. I'll have to watch it again (with even more hankies, no doubt).I recall some kitchen scenes, but I think the images of needles passing through fabric are more vivid for me. Love this series which combines two of my passions, food and film and in this case also literature.
francesca G. June 24, 2011
A perfect menu, Elena -- and, oh, the clothes!!! A definite costume party dinner, I would think ...
sexyLAMBCHOPx June 24, 2011
I loved Bridesmaids! Hmm, pairing for that?
elenakathryn June 24, 2011
Shameful, but I haven't seen it yet! Any thoughts on your end?
mrslarkin June 24, 2011
OMG the butterfly scene! I stumbled upon this movie from a blog I read - which one?? Or have you mentioned it before, Elena? Anyways, it's beautiful, just like these simple recipes. Thank you!
elenakathryn June 24, 2011
I have not mentioned it before here, but did on my personal blog. If you like this movie you must watch the Piano.
aargersi June 24, 2011
LOVE this movie!! Great pick!