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Shine
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Virtuoso performance by Geoffrey Rush as a disturbed virtuoso pianist.

10/10
Author: Alex Deleon (Barev2013@gmail.com) from United States, Budapest, etc.
7 December 2014

Viewed at RIGA, Arsenals Forum IFF, September 20-28, 1998. SHINE (1996) written and directed by Scott Hicks stars Geoffrey Rush as an emotionally disturbed virtuoso pianist in Australia, freaked out by the impossible demands of a father who constantly abuses him with the memory of his own disturbed childhood in Europe and the loss of family in the concentration camps. The cruel father of the child prodigy pianist, passing on his genocide complex to the next generation, is heavyweight German actor, Armin Meuller-Stahl (b. 1930) who is in everything these days, and it ends with a rousing piano rendition of Rimsky-Korsakov's "The Flight of the Bumblebee" when the hero, after a long stint in an institution, recovers his senses to some extent ... The true story of David Helfgott (may God help him) -- very absorbing with tour-de-force performance by Mr. Rush. After this he'll be in everything! (And he was).

Shine was one of the big films of the year and earned Rush the Academy award for for Best Actor plus a nomination for Best Actor in a Supporting role for Mueller-Stall. Also nominated for Best Picture and best Original Screenplay. It included the last screen appearance at age 82 of British born actress Googie Withers who was a big star way back in the thirties (for example, in Hitchcock's "The Lady Vanishes"). Another elder British giant, John Gielgud, had a cameo at age 94! -- and passed away in 2000. Aussie director Scott Hicks, not very well known outside of Australia, also made "Snow falling on Cedars", a 1999 drama with Ethan Hawke defending a wrongly accused Japanese American in a murder case during the wave of anti-Japanese prejudice in America following Pearl Harbor.

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Saddening and uplifting at the same time

8/10
Author: craig-hopton from United Kingdom
16 November 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is a mostly uplifting biopic of David Helfgott, an Australian pianist afflicted by mental disease. Uplifting because although his illness ultimately stops him realising his full potential, he does survive it and emerges from his darkest moments to get back into the concert hall again. In other words, this is a celebration of survival.

The strongest aspect of the movie is the relationship between Helfgott and his father, a Polish Jewish immigrant to Australia. The father is presented as a harsh taskmaster, extremely proud but also wanting what (he believes) is the best for his family. His domineering approach drives the two of them apart and (you suspect) contributes to Helfgott's illness. But the interactions between Armin Mueller-Stahl as the father and Alex Rafalowicz, Noah Taylor and Geoffrey Rush as Helfgott at different ages provide the strongest moments of drama.

There are a number of Helfgott's other relationships explored - his friendship with an elderly woman and music-lover, his apprenticeship with a professor in London, and his falling in love with a woman who becomes his wife. But none of these sustains the same level of drama and interest as the father-son scenes.

Of course a mention also has to be given to the music. There's plenty of beautiful piano playing (I'd have liked more), culminating in a frantic performance of Rachmaninoff's 3rd piano concerto in the movie's signature and pivotal scene. I'd watch Shine again just to see this clip.

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Really?!

2/10
Author: juneebuggy from Canada
6 November 2014

Agh really!? I was expecting a lot more from this based on Oscar nominations and all the rave reviews it received. Possibly not my kind of movie or maybe I was just missing something but I didn't enjoy this at all and was bored throughout. I actually stopped and checked out IMDb part way in to make sure I was watching the same movie as everyone else. Yup I was.

Told in three parts, Geoffrey Rush does do a fine job as Australian piano prodigist David Helfgott but honestly I was more impressed by Armin Mueller Stahl as his abusive, insecure father and Noah Taylor as the adolescent David, who shows the moment of his mental breakdown after preforming Rachmaninoff's technically demanding Piano Concerto No. 3.

Now that was a good scene even if it's left a little unclear as to why and what happened directly afterwards. Glad that's over with. 04.05.14

"Geoffrey Rush won an Oscar for his performance in this true story of Australian pianist David Helfgott, who burst on the competition scene at a very early age, but whose star potential was shattered by a nervous breakdown."

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Shine

10/10
Author: Jackson Booth-Millard from United Kingdom
15 June 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This debut from Australian actor Geoffrey Rush, star of Pirates of the Caribbean, originally a stage actor, is a brilliant one in a fantastic biographical drama. The film tells the story of gifted but deeply troubled Autralian pianist David Helfgott, who's talent grew from childhood (played by Alex Rafalowicz) to adolescence (played by Noah Taylor). Hie was driven by his teachers, but more by his strict and abusive father Peter (Armin Mueller-Stahl), who never let him make his own decisions, especially when it concerns leaving home. Finally though David stands up to his father and goes to study overseas, but he suffers a breakdown, and returns to Australia to live life in an institution. Years later, adult David (Oscar, BAFTA and Golden Globe winning Rush), who has developed a very fast vocabulary, is released, and visiting a restaurant one day, he plays the piano again, and his career is reborn, before finally returning to the concert hall, and marrying Gillian (Lynn Redgrave). Also starring John Gielgud as Cecil Parkes, Googie Withers as Katharine Susannah Prichard, Sonia Todd as Sylvia, Nicholas Bell as Ben Rosen, Justin Braine as Tony and Chris Haywood as Sam. Rush is both sympathetic and comedic, and with wonderful piano music, even featuring the real of Helfgott in the background, this is definitely a must see. It was nominated the Oscars for Best Director for Scott Hicks, Best Film Editing, Best Music for David Hirschfelder, Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen and Best Picture, it won the BAFTA for Best Sound, and it was nominated for the Anthony Asquith Award for Film Music, Best Editing, Best Original Screenplay, the David Lean Award for Direction and Best Film, and it was nominated the Golden Globes for Best Director, Best Original Score, Best Screenplay and Best Motion Picture - Drama. Outstanding!

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pushing children

8/10
Author: marilyn-chapman from Canada
23 September 2006

I found the film to be excellent. As for the reviews and psychoanalyses, I find the film to represent a typical human story -- of parent wanting the best for a child, but in essence causing harm --and of a child wanting to be whom he/she is. It is so easy to blame parents, for they are human, and thus fallible. Anyone who has had children, and who reflects on the experience of parenting many years later (e.g., as a grandparent), wishes s/he had done things differently. Yet children tend to emerge as they will--into beings with their own interests, desires, and aptitudes nevertheless. A good reminder can be found in Gibran's philosophies. The archetypal stories of Shine endure beyond the specifics.

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A moving story

9/10
Author: dubesor from Vancouver, Canada
28 September 2003

I thought that 'Shine' was a very moving story; the man's journey through life really makes you think. I thought his father was a character that was true-to-life: parents like him are not that uncommon. The effect his 'guidance' has on the son is also believable.

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Nearly Perfect

Author: J. Wellington Peevis from Malltown
14 September 2003

A weak dénouement robs this film of perfection. The rest however is brilliant, staggeringly so. Ok you can argue the Rain Man act is done so often that its probably not that taxing on an actors abilities. But I do think Rush serves it up best in this portrayal of a piano prodigy who blows a gasket while performing a Rachmaninoff concerto. It's a marvelous experience and a film you will definitely want to own.

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a favourite

Author: paulclucas from Gothenburg
10 November 2002

This is one of my favourites. Rush is remarkable in this role as David Helfgott, the famous Australian pianist.

There have been some comments by other users claiming that a great deal of information is missing, however it would be impossible to show every fact of a man's life in 90 minutes. This is a problem with film, that continuity and believability issues are difficult to forgive. However the director/writer has selected the information that he thought was most important with regard to portraying Helfgotts life as humanly and as cinematographically as possible, and we as viewers will have to trust him on that. Personally I think he did a great job, and simply seeing Rush as David was far more inspiring and moving than spending time finding out about the particulars of his illness, or indeed accurately biographing his breakdown piece by miserable piece. In fact I applaud the shape and timing of the manuscript which was based upon conversations between Helgott and the director/writer Scott Hicks.

Another user, who labelled the film 'pretentious', being himself accomplished with the piano, has complained about the embarrassing dubbing of music over the poor keyboard skills shown by the 'actors'. This is an interesting statement, and if the learned gentleman had access to the director's interview on the DVD version of the film, he would have found out that the 'actors' did actually play the majority of the pieces themselves. I, unlike him, therefore thoroughly enjoyed the playing sequences, especially Rush's who is a talented player in his own right.

There are few actor performances that have me genuinely startled, but Rush's is one of them, and at times his portrayal of Helfgott makes you want to believe that they are the same man. Great stuff. Bravo sport!

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Not just a picture, Shine is an experience.

9/10
Author: Mr. Leslie Howard Spaiser (leslie@spaiser.net) from United States
19 August 2001

Just a wonderful movie. Geoffrey Rush is wonderful. Certainly a "Best Actor of the year." You must see this movie if you love life.

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1 more thing...

Author: flickguy-3 (spielberg87@hotmail.com) from Toronto, Ontario
16 July 2001

i have just one thing to say about this film. geoffrey rush got an oscar. yes he did. but what he really deserved was another one for actually learning to become the character and one more for learning to speak like the character. i was forced to turn on my closed captioning on my television set because i was unable to understand. he talked so fast, it amazed me. well, thats all i have to say, even though it sounded stupid what i just said, i had to let it out.

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