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Laramie Movie Scope:

One of the best movies of 1996

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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March 7, 1997 -- "Shine" is one of the best films of 1996 and is a must-see for music lovers, and it is finally here in Laramie for us to enjoy. I saw this film in Denver last year and it was number three on my top 10 list for 1996.

It doesn't have everything, but it has a lot. It has excellent acting, great music and fantastic photography. The story covers the life of a musical prodigy from the depths of his despair to the heights of achievement and joy. It is a triumph of will over an uncaring world in much the same way Jane Campion's "An Angel at My Table" was.

"Shine" stars Geoffrey Rush as real-life musical prodigy David Helfgott, or at least the adult version of him (Gordon Poole plays him as a child). The film covers most of his life. Helfgott has an excellent chance to win an Oscar for best performance in a leading role. If there is any justice, Armin Mueller-Stahl will win for his supporting role as Helfgott's father, Peter. It is the best performance I have seen this year. It is a very unsympathetic role as the domineering father, but flawlessly done.

The movie makes it unclear whether or not Helfgott's mental problems are physical in nature, or the result of physical and mental abuse by his father. It is clear, however, that music is both the curse and the salvation of Helfgott.

A critical scene in the movie takes place when Helfgott successfully performs Rachmaninoff's third concerto, a piano composition so difficult that only a handful of people in history have attempted to play it in public. The photography and editing in this scene are electrifying.

The rest of the film concerns itself with Helfgott's descent into Hell and his slow, agonizing journey to recovery and eventual triumph. It is a film that is painful to watch at times, but it certainly has its rewards. This film rates an A.

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Copyright © 1997 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)