Hilary And Jackie

on December 30, 1998 by L.J. Strom
   The pressure-cooker world of classical music performance as seen in 1996's "Shine" comes to us from a somewhat different perspective in "Hilary and Jackie," the story of renowned cellist Jacqueline Du Pre ("Breaking the Waves'" Emily Watson). Based on "A Genius in the Family," a memoir by her siblings, the film is also the story of Jackie's relationship with her sister Hilary ("Muriel's Wedding's" Rachel Griffiths) and the joys and pains they share as they find their lives taking them down divergent paths. While Jackie's mastery of the cello wins her adulation and concert bookings galore, Hilary, a flutist from childhood, opts out of the music world for a loving marriage. Jackie eventually marries as well, to famed pianist Daniel Barenboim (James Frain), but this is still not enough to quell her growing discontent with life on the road in a profession she realizes, in desperation, she hasn't actually chosen for herself.
   Watson employs her trademark naked intensity to potent effect as the highly-strung virtuoso whose gradual loss of emotional and physical equilibrium threatens her relationships with the people who love her. Griffiths has the less showy role, but she more than holds her own; though Hilary's feelings may reveal themselves much more subtly, Griffiths shows that they run just as deep.
   Altogether, the film is quite an ambitious and stylized biopic, spanning decades and capturing the world of concert performance where time stops and sensory perception become excruciatingly magnified. But in the end, the film's stylistic reach exceeds its emotional grasp. The swooping, circling camera and the ultra-impassioned soundtrack force a grandiosity that seems intrusive and a bit overblown for this otherwise intimate story. It's in the quiet moments when Watson and Griffiths pop through the artful goings-on that "Hilary and Jackie" performs most movingly. Starring Emily Watson, Rachel Griffiths and James Frain. Directed by Anand Tucker. Written by Frank Cottrell Boyce. Produced by Nicolas Kent and Andrew Paterson. An October release. Drama. Rated R for language and sexuality. Running time: 125 min
Tags: Starring Emily Watson, Rachel Griffiths, James Frain, Directed by Anand Tucker. Written by Frank Cottrell Boyce, Produced by Nicolas Kent, Andrew Paterson, October, Drama

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