Hilary and Jackie [1998]

Genre: Biography, Drama, Music
It earned Oscar nods, yet this cinematic look at a genius--that of English cellist Jacqueline du Pré, who enraptured audiences with her bold, emblazoned, and wholly unconventional playing style, and who died at age 42--was criticized for its "lapses" in truth by people who purportedly knew du Pré. Some of the controversy revolved around the other main character in Anand Tucker's gorgeous, involving movie--du Pré's sister, Hilary, whose book, A Genius in the Family (cowritten with brother Piers), dished some dirt on Jackie's sleeping with Hilary's husband. But don't let that deter you from this ebullient movie experience. The film is a bisected story (each sister's tale is told in the same amount of screen time) teeming with heartfelt drama that belies the cheap shots it received from its detractors. It's stirring, reckless, loving, involving, and rife with unconventional passion; passion for music, life, art, and the delicate relationship between these two synchronous, extraordinary sisters as played by brilliant actors Emily Watson and Rachel Griffiths (both of whom earned Oscar nods). Though Watson got the juicy, showy role as Jackie, it's Griffiths who provides the heart, soul, and spine of the film. And director Tucker has that gift of being able to explain through the visual medium what is happening inside of his character's heads. He's helped by a fine screenplay by Frank Boyce Cottrell. No matter what the truth of Hilary and Jackie might really be, this is an exceptional, rare film that is defined and graced by fine acting and writing. --Paula Nechak

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