Shine is a small, but astonishing tale of the fall and rise of a prodigal pianist. The first half of the film is told in flashbacks as the mentally unstable middle-aged David Helfgott (Geoffrey Rush) recalls his childhood. Here, David (young: Alex Rafalowicz, older: Noah Taylor) learns of his talent, but is nearly smothered by a domineering father (Armin Mueller-Stahl) who wants David to win at nearly all costs…except those which could break up his family. David manages to escape his father, and under the tutelege of Cecil Parkes (John Gielgud) he begins to master his talent. But the stress and emotion of his music (particularly Rachmaninoff) begins to unravel him. Both Geoffrey Rush and Noah Taylor are terrific in their portrayal of the eccentric pianist. Armin Mueller-Stahl is sufficiently overbearing, but never gives enough insight into his character’s motivation. The film’s true strength is the same as David Helfgott’s…his music. The music throughout Shine is rich, wonderful and amazing, giving you insight into the complexities required to master it. The only fault that Shine truly has is that it doesn’t dig deep enough. You’re warmed by David’s recovery through music, but you never really understand why. But don’t let that discourage you, Shine is a fully enjoyable film nonetheless, a delight to hear as well as see.
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