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Shine

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Shine

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The son of a domineering father, David Helfgott became a renowned prodigy in Australia before his mental breakdown in 1970. Shine chronicles his breakdown and subsequent decline into and recovery from obscurity. Noah Taylor and Geoffrey Rush play Helfgott as a young man and adult, respectively, with the former capturing his painful introversion and the latter the uncontrollable extroversion following his breakdown. In many ways a deeply satisfying movie—there's no forgetting Rush's reckless performance, while director Scott Hicks pushes all the right emotional buttons without appearing to push them at all—Shine is not without its weaknesses. Any time a movie portrays a handicapped person's triumph over adversity, it runs the risk of lapsing into cliches, something Shine does on several occasions. Though skillfully constructed, its attribution of Helfgott's breakdown solely to his father betrays a simplicity that doesn't support the complexity of Rush's performance. His constant verbal flow contains references which convey a larger world. Nonetheless, the central figure, as captured by Taylor's and especially Rush's performances, makes Shine a memorable, deeply affecting movie.