Woe Betide Love (Or is it the other way around?)
An impoverished poet, indebted to his boorish and obnoxious friend, John Keats (Ben Wishaw) had taken the pall of life and perhaps, death, too, as it had first taken the life of his sick brother. With nothing to live for, nothing to live by but his passion for his writings, Mr Keats embraced the remaining years of his life musing in silence under his tattered coat. Until a seamstress, whom he fondly called ‘mixstress’ breathed air into his sullen days, Mr Keats found love, the muse of his inspiration, in Ms Fanny Brawne (Abbie Cornish).
How else can I describe their darkling passion for each other but through the beauty and life of one great creation, such as poetry. “Poetry soothes and emboldens the soul to accept mystery,” just as their love was a refuge where they can find understanding, comfort, and acceptance. “If poetry does not come as naturally as leaves to a tree then it had better not come at all.” What do they need out of love but the truth, honesty, and a bond strong enough to fight conformity. “Poetic craft is a carcass, a sham.” Was there ever a strategy, a concoction of spells, mathematical and scientific formula to love, to feel its greatness and depth? to learn about its pain? about its gain and losses? Their love story was the essence of a poem.
The film upholds so much value about love. The colors when the characters were devoid and filled with love, the score that gave it a sweet, lonely departure, the supporting characters that made loneliness lonelier despite of their presence, and the utterance of words from a poet and a seamstress — two people who were totally different, with statures in life that cast them unmatched for one another — I must say, there lived a poetry, a love that betide nothingness and everything else.