Starring: Geoffrey Rush, Noah Taylor, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Nicholas Bell, Googie Withers, John Gielgud, Lynn Redgrave
Director: Scott Hicks
Summary: A pianist fights to overcome schizophrenia and return to the concert stage
Other Nominations: Director, Actor (Rush)*, Supporting Actor (Mueller-Stahl), Original Screenplay, Original Dramatic Score, Film Editing
Geoffrey Rush is another example in what was definitely a trend back then: he was the 6th person in a period of 9 years to win Best actor for portraying a person with a handicap or illness: Dustin Hoffman for Rain Man (Autism Spectrum Disorder), Daniel Day-Lewis for My Left Foot (Cerebral Palsy), Al Pacino for Scent of a Woman (blind), Tom Hanks for Philadelphia (AIDS) and for Forrest Gump (developmental disability), and Geoffrey Rush for Shine (schizophrenia). I’ve seen five of those, and of them I think Rush was the least deserving, even more than Pacino who was basically a lifetime achievement winner. There’s nothing wrong with his performance, but something about it felt like he was trying too hard (a la Sean Penn in I Am Sam or Cliff Robertson in Charly), something I confirmed after watching interviews with the actual subject of the film. That, and he also appears very sparingly until the last 40 minutes-Taylor had as much if not more screentime as the younger version of the same character.
I actually thought Mueller-Stahl gave the best performance here (as Rush/Taylor’s domineering father), and the relationship between him and his son was the backbone of the movie-it’s the main reason why I thought the first half of the movie before Rush really comes in was much stronger than the second (that, and the big piano competition scene is a great combination of cinematography, sound mixing and editing). There’s controversy whether the film’s depiction of their relationship was accurate with different family members saying different things, but since it’s a matter of legitimate debate, I can’t knock the film for it. I liked the movie, but Rush’s performance wasn’t as good as I was expecting.