Shine

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(1996) ★★★★

BBC1: Wednesday 25 November, 11.40pm

It was a surreal moment for the 45-year-old man from Toowoomba, Queensland. Here he was in Holywood, bounding up the steps to pick up an Academy Award for his first sizeable role in a movie, and the man handing him the Oscar was an old mate. As director of the previous year’s Best Picture, Braveheart, Mel Gibson was doing the honours.

“It was like, in all the gin joints in all the world…” said Geoffrey Rush years later. And still Hollywood doesn’t know quite what to make of him. Sure, he’s good fun as Barbossa to Johnny Depp’s Cap’n Sparrow in The Prates of the Caribbean movies. But Rush’s riveting performance as real-life Australian pianist David Helfgott is more indicative of the man’s prodigious talents: “One of the things the studio offered me after that was to play Liberace, which I thought was hilarious.

I suppose they thought I could open up the keyboard genre.” While Shine strikes a more sombre note, it never succumbs to self-seriousness or sentimentality. Given the opportunity to escape his repressive childhood home but devastated by his father’s rejection, Helfgott’s spirit is broken while studying at London’s Royal College of Music – specifically on the rack of Rachmaninoff’s third concerto.

He retreats into a personal world of mental non sequiturs. It’s an extremely poignant story – his father’s humanity irreparably damaged during the Holocaust, Helfgott’s humanity simply too big to be contained by conventional parameters. The acute use of sound is crucial and all the acting is as finely tuned as Rush’s. Noah Taylor is the painfully awkward adolescent Helfgott, Armin Mueller-Stahl is the sadly forbidding father.

Certificate: 12

Duration: 101min

IMDB – Shine

TMDB – Shine

Rotten Tomatoes – Shine

Other Showings Date & Time
BBC1 Wales Thursday, 26 November at 12:10AM
BBC1 Scotland Thursday, 26 November at 12:35AM