"Shine" is a modern-day masterpiece based on the life of David Helfgott (played by Geoffrey Rush). Since early childhood, David is suppressed by his tyrannical father who seriously damages his mental and emotional health. Armin Mueller-Stahl (who plays his father) does an excellent job portraying a strict and overbearing father who constantly pushes his child to the edge and eventually to near insanity. He is fueled by his obsession for David's greatness as a pianist which ends up putting his son through hell. Rush's astonishing performance masterfully portrays his life-long struggle to please his father and his commitment to playing the piano. David, as an adolescent, is played by an enthused Noah Taylor, whose stellar performance also captures Helfgott's deep passion for his music.
David's wife Gillian (Lynn Redgrave) is a loving, understanding and supportive astrologer who loves him in spite of all his eccentricities. Though Redgrave's role is brief, her impact has an immense effect on the outcome.
The all-around enthusiasm brought to this biography by the actors provides a strong sense of realism. The script is well written, thought-out, and directed. What I particularly liked aren't the special effects or trick photography, but that the movie is an authentic portrait of a man's life. This movie not only walked away with many Oscars, but also with my undivided attention. I would certainly recommend it to anyone who would like to sit down, take a break from all the action movies and watch an extraordinary man's life unfold. .
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.