Perhaps inspired by the success of biopics like Shine and Amadeus, this film based on a true story -- and a book (entitled A Genius in the Family) -- also focuses on the destructive forces of being a musical genius. Hilary and Jacqueline du Pré are gifted sisters who grow up in England in the 1950s and compete for musical accolades and love. Hilary (Rachel Griffiths) is a talented flutist, but it's her younger sister, Jackie (Breaking the Waves' Emily Watson), who is the musical "genius" cellist. The film follows their sibling rivalry in musical competition and romance. Though extremely close as children, it is younger sister Jackie who eventually becomes the international star, marrying top pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim. Hilary marries her true love, Kiffer Finzi (David Morrissey), and settles in a beautiful country home with her two children. But who is jealous of whom? Hilary receives an unexpected visit from Jackie, asking her sister for a chance to live a normal life and to sleep with Kiffer. Later, Jackie suffers from multiple sclerosis, and the sisters strive to repair the emotional damage of their long-standing rivalry.
by Arthur Borman synopsis