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British sisters Hilary du Pré and Jacqueline du Pré are both talented musicians, Hilary a flautist, Jackie a cellist. With regard to their musical prowess, they have always had a friendly competitive nature with each other, fueled in large part by the want of their pianist mother, Iris, for them to achieve musical greatness. But underlying this friendliness is a deep desire to be truly better than the other. Despite or perhaps in part because of her flamboyant performance style, the younger Jackie emerges from the shadows of older Hilary's more triumphant childhood successes to become the renowned musician in the family. Although both continue with their music and both end up marrying (Hilary to Kiffer Finzi, and Jackie to pianist Daniel Barenboim), Hilary focuses on her home life, whereas Jackie focuses on her career. A seemingly odd request by Jackie to Hilary is later understood, but Hilary's agreement to that request demonstrates the true nature of their loving but unusual ... Written by
Emily Watson actually learned to play the cello as a child so was a natural for the part of Jacqueline du Pré. She practiced so long and so intensively for the film that she would frequently make her fingers bleed. See more »
When a Japanese newspaper is shown publicizing Jackie's performance, the headline above the photo actually reported that the Japanese budget had been approved by parliament. See more »
If you think being an ordinary person is any easier than being an extraordinary one, you're wrong.
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As a child Hilary was the talented musician on the flute and the younger Jacqueline was encouraged to keep up if she wanted to accompany her sister on trips to musical events. So Jackie practiced hard on her cello to do so, gradually becoming better than her sister. As adults Hilary is now very much in the shadow of her brilliant sister Jackie, who is booked solid for shows. However where Hilary finds happiness and support from her partner and husband Kiffer, Jackie grows increasingly isolated from others. The pair's relationship drifts apart but comes together again to produce one traumatic moment in their relationship.
I'm sure it has been done many times but I still found this film's structure to be pretty clever. The central traumatic act in the narrative occurs halfway through the film; up until then we follow things from Hilary's point of view and then in the second half we jump backwards and work up to it again (and beyond) from Jacqueline's (more or less). The effect is that the first half of the film is engaging as it develops along lines we don't know while the second film is engaging as it underpins the reasons for Jacqueline's character and where she goes from there. I put of watching the film because I had no knowledge of the characters and no real interest in their music, however now that I have watched it I am glad I did as it is well made and interesting. It is very character driven and evenly paced, which will annoy some viewers but for me it worked really well and produced a story that didn't require you to know the people involved because you felt you did by the end.
Watson leads the cast really well, bringing out the innocent of her character as easily as she does the spite within Jackie. Griffiths yet again shows her talent in taking on yet another accent and strange character and pulling it off. They work well together although their best scenes are early on. Support is good from Frain, Morrissey, Dance, Imrie and others but the film is lead well by the main two actresses who work well with the material given them.
Overall this is a well paced film that will annoy some but is heavy in quality. The character development in the script is strong and the cast respond well to it. Tucker controls it all well with a good eye for a scene and some imaginative visual touches and brings out a film that is well-structured and engaging even if it won't be to everyone's tastes.
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