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Shine

Year: 1996
Studio: Australian Film Finance Corporation
Director: Scott Hicks
Writer: Scott Hicks/Jan Sardi
Cast: Geoffrey Rush, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Noah Taylor, Chris Haywood, John Gielgud, Lynne Redgrave

When the Australian film renaissance was just taking off, Geoffrey Rush gave what's still the performance of his career as the bipolar Perth pianist David Helfgott.

It was an issues movie wrapped up in good humour and love, and it's hard to believe it would be as well received today after Crocodile Dundee.

After an abusive childhood as a piano prodigy, David (Taylor) finally leaves his father (Mueller-Stahl) to study overseas, where he has a mental breakdown in one of the films most haunting and effective scenes.

When he returns home the adult David (Rush, eerily effective channelling a stumbling autistic) is institutionalised and might have remained one of society's forgotten, rotting in the wrong place to treat his condition if it hadn't been for some chance meetings and unlikely turns of fate that saw him marry and garner popular acclaim as a performer.

Hicks' direction, while not outstanding, was professional quality the likes of which we weren't used to seeing from an Australian director, and his career hasn't gone nearly as far as Rush's in the years since.

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