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SHINE(director/writer: Scott Hicks; screenwriter: Jan Sardi; cinematographer: Geoffrey Simpson; editor: Pip Karmel; music: David Hirschfelder; cast: Geoffrey Rush (David Helfgott as an adult), Noah Taylor (David as a young man), Alex Rafalowicz (David as a child), Armin Mueller-Stahl (Peter), Lynn Redgrave (Gillian), John Gielgud (Cecil Parkes), Googie Withers (Katharine Prichard), Nicholas Bell (Ben Rosen); Runtime: 105; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producer: Jane Scott; Fine Line Features; 1996)
Inspired by the true story of the Australian classical pianist prodigy David Helfgott.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A biopic inspired by the true story of the Australian classical pianist prodigy David Helfgott. It’s directed and based on the story by Scott Hicks (“The Snow Falling on Cedars”/”The Boys Are Back”/”The Lucky One”). The tasteful script is by Jan Sardi. I was always wary of being manipulated, but Hicks pushes all the right emotional buttons to generate sympathy for his subject who will through a hard struggle overcome his handicap. In the end there’s more good things in the pic than bad ones.

David must overcome the strains of a domineering father (Armin Mueller-Stahl), a Polish Jewish survivor of World War II, while growing up in the 1950s in Australia before succeeding as a classical musician. In 1970, the young musician suffers a mental breakdown and retreats to obscurity before mounting a climb back. That the brooding dad is the sole villain seems to be a stretch. Otherwise the film seems solid and well-produced. It wins the battle over turning sentimental by constantly turning back cliches.

Geoffrey Rush gives an inspired performance as David, both as a youngster and an adult. Noah Taylor shares with Rush playing David as a youngster, and he does a fine job to capture his introversion.

REVIEWED ON 10/27/2015 GRADE: B-

Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”