australian films

Australian Movie Month: Shine (1996)

Starring: Geoffrey Rush, Noah Taylor, Lynn Redgrave, John Gielgud

Director: Scott Hicks

As a child, David Helfgott’s father pushes him to be a child piano prodigy, but his strict and controlling nature pushes David til he breaks. While he’s expected to be a wonder, he’s also not allowed by hos father to leave home and take up any oppurtunities. When he does, his father disowns him and he ends up having a nervous breakdown. A ruined man, he’s all but forgotten, til he starts playing the piano one night in a local restaurant.

David Helfgott is a real person and this story is true, though some of Helfgott’s family have denied parts of it, particularly relating to the cruely of David’s father. It’s a heartfelt and sweet film, very moving and sad too. David is a sensitive child and one who could go far, and it’s heartbreaking to see the pressure he’s under and the emotional blackmail he’s placed under.

It was a film that broke through in the US and across the world, and won some prestigious awards in the year it came out, incuding an Oscar. And with good reason too. It has some amazing performances throughout, and brought Geoffrey Rush into the international lime light through his incredible performance as the adult David, a man who was broken by years in institutions and electric shock therapy. David is also played by Noah Taylor in his adolescent years, and he’s really well cast too.

I think my favourite part about this film is that it’s an underdog story. David Helfgott is a really likable, and it’s so hard to see how his circumstances, his parents and his fragile mental health, break him. And yet, in his later years he’s funny and eccentric, he’s still a warm and interesting man, and things change for him. I won’t tell you how, but it’s a good story.

See It If: you like stories that are hopeful and uplifting, as well as dramatic and emotional. It’s a really good story and all the more moving because it’s true.

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