Geoffrey Rush is one of my personal favorite actors; he’s strong and steadfast in pretty much all of his roles, and he is always massively entertaining to watch. It was this film, Shine, that garnered him his currently only Academy Award win, and is considered his breakout role, and justly so. Directed by Scott Hicks, this is another film that seems destined for Oscar glory; it’s the story of a gifted pianist who suffers a mental breakdown and struggles to live his life in the face of institutionalization. Oscar gold right there.
The main character seems to be yet another perfectly formed Oscar character; eccentric to the point of mania or autism, with a latent talent for beauty and a thirst for life. Thankfully, they cast Geoffrey Rush in the role, and he makes of it something much more entertaining and less superficial than it otherwise would be. The rest of the film is pure Oscar bait, particularly the melancholy piano score, befitting given the subject but at the same time extremely blunt in how it manipulates emotion at just the right times. Really, the whole film just manipulates, without care as to showing itself as such, and it’s up to you whether or not you wish to be drawn into the spider web the film so blatantly weaves.
I wasn’t too enamored of this film in many ways. Besides the obvious Oscar baiting, the father character was one of the most blunt-headed, despicable characters I’ve personally regarded in cinema; he was bullish and unwavering for absolutely no reason other than the film demanded it of him, and it was just another way the film desired to manipulate me without care as to how the story should rightfully be told, or how the film should rather flow and revitalize its story through care and attention, instead of sheer controllingness. I wasn’t keen on being directly played with like a puppet on strings the way this film so obviously did; the same could be said of many films I’ve reviewed more positively in the past, but for me, this film was just so demeaning in how it demanded I react exactly how it wanted me to react, and the more it went on, the more I took exception to it. Geoffrey Rush is the saving grace of this film, and it really works on every level that it tries to, but that’s because it deliberately tries to; if you can withstand that, you’ll like this one, but if not, you’ll just feel like a fish being pulled along by a hook in your mouth.
Arbitrary Rating: 6/10