Shine is the proud Australian film that earned seven Oscar nominations, with Geoffrey Rush winning best actor. It was a low-budget film but had an unexpected success in the American box office.
The story focuses on the life of David Helfgott, a piano prodigy who had the potential of being famous. His father, Peter (Armin Mueller-Stahl) restricted him to leave his family to study music overseas, thus ruining his life. Set in the 70's to 80's, it is a moralistic story concerning relationships, commitment and freedom.
The start of the film pictures David in the present day thinking back
to his childhood. In his family of four, young David (Alex Rafalowicz)
tries to please his father by obeying him. He learnt piano from his father,
but an outside teacher Ben Rosen (Nicholas Bell) discovers David's talents
and he was able to persuade Peter to let him teach David. Growing up into
a teenager (Noah Taylor), he won the national piano awards with an invitation
to study in America. His father prohibited him to go, as David suffered
physical and verbal abuse. His behaviour changed and did not trust his
father any more. After receiving a scholarship to London, he refused his
father and left home. Educating in London, he decides to attempt Rach 3.
After the successful performance in front of the audience, David collapsed
and suffered a nervous breakdown. His reputation went down the drain.
The next scene begins with David as an adult (Geoffrey Rush) in hospital suffering the effects of mental illness with his inappropriate behaviour and usual habit of talking fast. At the bar scene, he silences the noisy customers and surprises them with his spectacular piano skills. From this moment on, Helfgott slowly became well known again. Later he married Gillian (Lynn Redgrave) who helped his piano career, despite his illness.
Peter Helfgott was the main obstacle in David's life. A superstitious person whose possessiveness and envy had obstructed his talented son. There was the unforgettable part where he says: 'No one will ever love you as I do; if you disobey me, you are punished for life and you will never come home.' This evil spell isolated David from succeeding and doing what he wants.
The director Scott Hicks and screenwriter Jan Sardi have given Shine the touch of magic. The unknown cast and crew in this film have been renowned by critics and are making their debut in the American film industry. Nominated best picture, it was very close to beat The English Patient.
The award-winning acting by Geoffrey Rush has changed the way of acting. The way he speaks (which is understandable by many) delights the audience with humour, and the suffering felt; makes the film emotional. Along with the classical music and a fine visual image, it is as if we are watching the whole truth.
Some parts of this film may need further explanation. There was inadequate information that showed how and what led to his illness, and the build-up relationship between David and Gillian. Nevertheless, it has expressed its final words.
Shine has now become the blueprint to current films. Although it wasn't another major disaster film with another typical American ending, it is still widely recognised as one of the best films of the nineties . . . and it will surely SHINE for years!