Browse all reviews by letter     A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 0 - 9

Australia 1996
Directed by
Scott Hicks
105 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2 stars


Shine was a huge popular and, rather more surprisingly, critical success but in reality it is a tediously simplistic film that milks the pathos of its real life story for all that it is worth.  

Geoffrey Rush won not just a Best Actor Oscar but an international career (which he has since well-justified) as the adult David Helfgott, who began life in 1950s Melbourne with a prodigious musical talent. Pushed by his over-bearing, Holocaust-obsessed father (Armin Mueller-Stahl) as a teenager (played by Noah Taylor) he gets to England’s Royal College of music where he blows a mental gasket while playing the formidable “Rach 3”. As a consequence he returns to Australia, has some kind of mental aberration and ends up institutionalised for years where he sinks into obscurity until it is accidentally discovered that his musical talent remains unimpaired. It is at this point that we pick up his story.

Hicks is a director with a considerable flair for eye-catching images and there are many such moments in this film. He is however a soft-pedaller who favours sentimental material. Jan Sardi’s script is certainly that and the result is a skilfully crafted but entirely conventional film, clearly pleasing to audiences looking for a comforting story but tiresome if you’ve seen this sort of thing many times before (the final scene of a hand-wringing, oddly lucid Helfgott receiving the rapt applause of his audience is typical of the film's uninspired manipulations). Whilst Rush is very effective at portraying Helgott’s idiosyncracies one can’t help but feel that his Oscar exemplifies the Academy's equation of caricatural disability with good acting.




Want something different?

random vintage best worst