At the age of 25, the poet John Keats died, thinking himself a complete failure. But he was not an obsolete talent, as time would tell. In fact, Keats is considered one of the most important writers in history for his Romantic verse.

Academy Award-winning director Jane Campion pays homage to the late bard, as well as his romance with 18-year-old Fanny Brawne in Bright Star. Keats is brought to life with great wit, sensitivity and unending sex appeal by 28-year-old Ben Whishaw. Playing opposite him as the strong-willed and fashion-savvy Brawne is Abby Cornish, who many may remember as Heath Ledger’s love interest in the Australian drama, Candy. Together, Whishaw and Cornish provide some of the most stunning and sensual moments to grace theaters in quite sometime.

What is most commendable about Bright Star is that the love story it tells has many elements that are not only relevant to its characters, but are actually universal themes for the ages.

Fanny has met Keats, and the two take a liking to each other. However, Keats’ best friend, Charles Armitage Brown (played by “Parks and Recreation”’s Paul Schneider), is constantly at odds with Fanny. This puts the poet in a very unenviable position; he must chose between his love and his friend.

Not only that, but he loves Fanny dearly, but can’t afford to marry her or provide for her, given his vocation (poetry didn’t pay well enough to support a family). Still, young passion conquers all; Fanny and Keats do their very best to stay together despite the hardships in their relationship.

Unfortunately, he falls ill with tuberculosis and has to live out his final days abroad. Campion delivers the drama of their final moments together, as well as news of the young poet’s death with a delicacy never seen before.

Whishaw is thrilled with the end result of his months working with Campion on the project. He credits her hands-on approach to filmmaking with producing one of his most memorable performances to date.

“She would say, ‘No, no, no! You’re trying too hard. Just relax,’” he admits. Whishaw also relied heavily upon the many love letters that Fanny and Keats sent each other. These correspondences offered the actor a window into the soul of this very complicated young man.

But his greatest study guide would be Keats’ work. When asked if he remembers any of the verse from the film Whishaw is quick to answer: “I know bits of ‘Ode to a Nightingale,’” he says shyly. “I think it’s really quite perfect.”

The young Brit was in his element, absorbing the full details of his character and the world that emerged from it.

“I only had one costume, really, because Keats had no money,” says Whishaw.

But he adored the garb and aesthetics from the era.

“It’s kind of nice to feel held in and held up,” he says.

He also found that he developed a huge admiration for his onscreen counterpart – a love that he gladly wears on his sleeve.

“[I admired] his mixture of sensitivity but also his robustness,” says Whishaw. “I think John Keats was not a bullshitter.”

The early verdict is in on Bright Star; it was a smash at the Cannes Film Festival, as well as the Toronto Film Festival. Fans of Keats (including the John Keats Society) are also on board with praise.

One member of the organization is especially taken with Bright Star’s leading man. “I got a woman who’s a member of the Keats Society; I won’t say she’s been stalking me,” jokes Whishaw, “but she has been popping up.”