Monday, December 29, 2014


Way back in 1996, when I was working at the Western Board of Music, someone - I think it may have been board member Carol Mellors - gave me two tickets to see a sneak preview of Shine, the biographical dramatization of the life of concert pianist David Helfgott. For whatever reason I didn't go.

Today, over 18 years later, I finally watched the film. Of that year's Best Picture nominees, I would rank it above winner The English Patient, but below all the other nominees (Secrets & Lies, Fargo and Jerry Maguire). It's a perfectly serviceable film, but Helfgott's descent into madness comes rather out of the blue. Yes, there are scenes of domestic violence and certainly Helfgott faced tremendous pressure to perform, but in the context of the movies, Helfgott-as-character suffers torments no worse than legions of other film heroes. This is not to trivialize the character's suffering, based as it is on real life, but the film could have done a better job of showing how Helfgott's illness developed.

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