A mute woman along with her young daughter, and her prized piano, are sent to 1850s New Zealand for an arranged marriage to a wealthy landowner, and she's soon lusted after by a local worker on the plantation.
Based on the true story of Australian pianist David Helfgott, this delightful movie charts the traumatic early years through adulthood. Telling the story in flashback we see David as a child prodigy and as he grows up while his patriarchal father abuses him and his siblings with the memory of his childhood in Europe and the loss of his family in the concentration camps. David finally breaks away from his father and goes away to study overseas, he later suffers a breakdown and returns to Australia and a life in an institution. Many years later he is released and through several twists of fate (in reality even more unlikely than film portrays) he starts playing a piano in a bar before finally returning to the concert hall. Written by
SHINE is a compelling and touching story about music, talent, performance, pressure, and redemption. Scott Hicks' masterpiece is difficult to summarise in any traditional review or comment because it touches upon so many facets and ranges of human emotion. It is no surprise that this tale, based 'loosely' on the life of pianist David Helfgott (I say loosely because this is by no means a strict documentary, as many liberties are taken with the script) was nominated for the Best Picture and Best Director Oscars, and were it not for THE English PATIENT, would have walked away with the grand prize.
Geoffrey Rush as the adult Helfgott is amazing and his Best Lead Actor victory for his portrayal of this musical genius was well-deserved as the performance was simply breathtaking. A popular complaint is that Rush was only on screen for less than half the run-time of the film and as such should not have really won. The counterargument is such: it is the quality of the performance that counts, not the screen-time. Armin Muller-Stahl is equally impressive and deserved his nomination. My only gripe is that Noah Taylor was not given at least a nod for his portrayal of the younger Helfgott.
The writing, cinematography, and musical score are top-notch and transform this Motion Picture from good to great. 8/10. 3.5 stars (out of 4). Should enter my Top 250 at 206. Highly recommended.
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