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Hilary and Jackie

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Hilary and Jackie

Starring: Emily Watson, Rachel Griffiths
Director: Anand Tucker
Rated: R
RunTime: 120 Minutes
Release Date: January 1999
Genres: Drama, Music

*Also starring: James Frain, David Morrisey, Charles Dance, Celia Imrie, Rupert Penry-Jones, Bill Paterson, Nyree Dawn Porter, Vernon Dobtcheff

Review by Susan Granger
3 stars out of 4

No, it's not that Hilary and it's not that Jackie - and not about First Ladies with philandering husbands. Instead, Anand Tucker's interesting, insightful film revolves around the Du Pre sisters, child prodigies with remarkable musical abilities. Hilary's the quiet, older sister, a flutist, and Jackie's, the willful, flamboyant cellist. They grew up, inseparable, in rural England during the '50s. Their early years revolve around musical competition, but soon Jacqueline Du Pre becomes famous, spending her life on tour, while Hilary opts for marriage and family, raising chickens in the country. Their relationship, however, doesn't grow any healthier. Quixotic Jackie delights in "surprising" Hilary by appearing on her doorstep, and - on one bizarre occasion - asks to "share" her husband, played by brash David Morissey. Jackie's own husband, Argentine musician Daniel Barenboim, hardly figures into the equation. Tragedy strikes when - at the peak of her career - Jackie develops multiple sclerosis from which she dies at the age of 42 in 1987. The key strengths of the film are the performances. As Jackie, Emily Watson ("Breaking the Waves") is vivacious to the point of maniacal, providing a stark contrast with Rachel Griffiths' stability as Hilary. The real Jackie was evidently a histrionic performer: selfish, spiteful, and sexually voracious. The key weakness is Frank Cotterell Boyce's unwieldy screenplay, based on "A Genius in the Family," Hilary Du Pre's autobiography. It's weighed down with narration and repetitive detail, like a soap opera which, annoyingly, repeats the story line often enough so that, if you missed an episode or two, you can catch up immediately. Not unexpectedly, Jacqueline Du Pre's friends are condemning the film, particularly cellist Julian Lloyd Webber, brother of Andrew, who asserts: "What they've done to her memory is scandalous!" On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Hilary and Jackie" is a stylish, intense 7. This sibling rivalry is far from harmonious.

Copyright 1998 Susan Granger

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