Shine (1996)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Biopic [feature], Psychological Drama  |   Release Date - Nov 22, 1996 (USA)  |   Run Time - 100 min.  |   Countries - Australia , United Kingdom   |   MPAA Rating - PG13
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Review by Jason Clark

Australian director Scott Hicks's breakthrough is a fairly standard but arrestingly performed biopic about David Helfgott, a young piano prodigy who finds solace in his music, despite his potentially damaging mental state. After a narratively haphazard first reel, the film gains momentum as it traces the older Helfgott's life, brought to life by Geoffrey Rush's blazing portrayal of the alienated pianist. The film was a momentous hit in its native country, where it won nine Australian Film Institute awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor; the latter prize would be duplicated in America, where Rush won the Academy Award in a highly competitive year (featuring the likes of Tom Cruise and Ralph Fiennes, among others), quite a feat for a performer who was not well-known stateside. At the 1997 Oscar ceremony, the real-life David Helfgott performed Flight of the Bumblebee, causing many viewers to fear for his unstable behavior, especially as the film presents him as a childlike individual with a sometimes Tourette's-style candor.