Tuesday, September 17, 2013

905. SHINE (1996)

Running Time: 105 minutes
Directed By: Scott Hicks
Written By: Scott Hicks, Jan Sardi
Main Cast: Geoffrey Rush, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Googie Withers, Lynn Redgrave, Noah Taylor
Click here to view the trailer


I promise, this will be the last of me straying from "Scorsese Week", as I intend to have my next two, watched films be "Goodfellas" and "Casino", which will be the end for Martin. For now though, let's take a look at the movie that rightfully won Geoffrey Rush the Best Actor Oscar in 1996.

The film is a biopic, for the unaware, and tells the story of David Helfgott, Australian pianist (Rush, at his adult stage). From the time David is a little boy, he is gifted with the talent of being able to play classical piano. His father (Mueller-Stahl), is his teacher and expects a certain discipline from his only son. His father tries, at times to be a friend, but usually comes off as extraordinarily strict, wanting nothing but success for his boy. His father thinks he is doing what's best for the boy, being a stern figure, but emotionally, his attitude is taking it's toll on David. As David grows, he only gets better and eventually there are offers for David to study elsewhere in the world, including the United States. His father, not wanting to lose him, forbids him to ever take any incoming offers. Ultimately, an offer from England arrives and David is determined to accept. With a little urging from friend Katharine (Withers), David confronts his father with the news. His father reacts by beating him and telling him that if he does leave, he will no longer have a father - David leaves. In England, David's talent is only further heightened, as he is taught by the finest of professors. Eventually he tackles a very challenging piece (Rachmaninoff) and upon his acing it, has a mental breakdown and is admitted into a hospital, where he becomes a resident for many years. Later, as an adult, David is released and tries to re-enter society, under the passing care of several people, including a friend of his wife to be.


Okay, so let me take you through the experience I had with "Shine". First of all, it took me two sittings to watch it because I started it Sunday night, but then got a little too tired to continue giving it my full attention, so I retired with about an hour to go and finished it last night. So anyway, I'm watching along and it's not dragging or anything, but it's not standing out as anything particularly "must see" either. It begins to occur to me that I'm starting to dislike biopics, because they just never choose any stories other than hard luck ones. Perhaps that's why I've always had a bit of a soft spot for the Howard Stern biopic "Private Parts", because it's just a story about a guy and it's not about him carrying a cruise liner up a mountain, barefoot through broken glass, while choking on an root beer barrel. I bet you that 95% of the biopics out there are hard luck stories and they all seem to follow the same pattern, even though they're all supposed to be different, unique stories about one person's life. Hey, don't get me wrong, it's not that I'm not sympathetic to the hard luck stories in biopics, but lets just say they don't always make for good films and perhaps I'd rather be watching a documentary about the struggling person's life, or archival footage from YouTube or something. So anyway, this isn't playing out as anything different and I'm watching the clock and wondering when this Geoffrey Rush performance that I've heard so much about is going to begin. To the unaware, Heflgott's story is told through the use of three different actors portraying him and Rush is the adult version. So we have to sit through Helfgott as a child and as a teenager, before FINALLY getting to Rush, at nearly the one hour mark!

But then, Geoffrey Rush steals the show! Now, don't get me wrong, it probably wasn't enough to totally win me over or anything, but what a freaking performance and this guy truly earned his little gold statue and that's coming from a guy who loved Billy Bob Thornton as Karl Childers (also nominated that year). Look at it this way, I was quite unimpressed with this movie, yet Rush nearly got me to cry on TWO different occasions in the film: 1) When he has to say goodbye to Gillian and 2) when he himself cries, at the end, after his concert. I mean, when people talk about outstanding performances, this is what they're talking about. I'll stop gushing about it, because I can't say enough good things about it and there's no use trying. On a final note, I fount the beginning of the film to be quite odd. Why start with David knocking on the restaurant door? What was so significant about that moment in Helfgott's life that we had to start there and then meet back up there, later in the film? The only thing I can think of is because it was where he met the woman that would later introduce him to his wife, but even David's marriage is downplayed quite a bit, in the grand picture.

RATING: 6/10  And all six of those notches are for Geoffrey Rush. What a freaking performance. Must see? Yes, but without Rush, it's must avoid.


September 17, 2013  7:33pm


  1. Good morning Andrew.. I don't feel I have much to add to or argue with.
    Memories are fading afer about 3 years, with just a few moments and a general impression remaining.
    In short.. pretty much the same as you.. a well made film with a stunning lead performance. So why am I not raving about it? Nothing much for me to relate directly to, and about a person, who, until the film came out, I did not know about. The subject matter made it rather hard work to watch
    As the above are shortcomings on my behalf, and certainly not of the film - and especially the last point (difficult{read challenging} to watch)should, I feel, never be used as a negative.

    1. Always good to be agreed with. Thanks, as always, for the comments Ray.


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