Customer Review

26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars AS CLOSE AS TWO SISTERS CAN BE,,,, 9 Jan. 2003
This review is from: Hilary And Jackie [DVD] [1999] (DVD)
This is an outstanding film with bravura performances by all the actors and actresses who grace it. Emily Watson is dazzling as world-renowned cellist, Jacqueline Du Pre, and Rachel Griffiths gives a heartwarming portrayal of Hilary, the more grounded Du Pre sister. British director Anand Tucker does a masterful job of capturing and exploring the often complex and symbiotic relationship between these two sisters, one of whom reaches heights in the music world of which most may only dream.
Most of the film is bifurcated in that it is told from the perspective of each of the sisters, with the same scenarios being viewed through the eyes of one sister at any given time. The film opens with a scene of the young sisters playing on the beach, with an enigmatic adult figure on the shore whom the younger of the sisters, Jackie, approaches. They speak, but what transpires between the young Jackie and this solitary figure is only made manifest at the conclusion of the film.
The viewer is then thrust into the Du Pre household, where it is clear that their lives revolve around music, with Jackie playing the cello and Hilary the flute. A pivotal moment in the film occurs when Hilary is invited to participate in a televised children's concert, and Jackie is not. Jackie is told by their mother that if she wishes to get such an invitation that she must play better.
This is an edict that Jackie takes to heart and adopts with abandon, becoming relentless in her devotion to the cello, until it is she, and not Hilary, who becomes the one in demand and the one to whom slavish attention is given. This is a portent of things to come. Therein lies the seed for the subtle rivalry that is to last their entire lives, though they remain as close as two sisters can be. Jackie goes on to become one of the world's most renowned cellists.
That Hilary sublimates herself to her sister is obvious, even when ballroom dancing together, as it is Jackie who leads Hilary. This was to remain the pattern for most of their respective lives. While the shy and seemingly insecure Hilary eventually marries a man who makes her feel special and important, it is Jackie who continues to dazzle, even in the marriage arena, marrying a world class pianist with whom she makes beautiful music, until she is struck by a fatal illness.
As Jackie's world spirals out of control, Hilary is leading the placid life of a country squiress, having children and playing at local concerts, happily married to a man who is clearly devoted to her. Jackie intrudes on their idyllic life, and in her frenetic fashion turns their world upside down during a visit sans her husband, when she obviously horns in on Hilary's husband. What happens next is sure to shock even the most jaded of viewers.
As Jackie grows more successful in the music world, her personal life spirals out of control. Her passion for the cello is often countermanded by the pains she takes to try to divest herself of the demanding instrument that seemingly controls her life, as her passion and musical genius begin to consume her to the exclusion of all else. Her tortured soul is finally set free, when she succumbs to her fatal illness, a lonely and tragic figure at the end, mourned most of all by Hilary.
This is a movie that music lovers and anyone who loves a beautifully directed and well-acted film will appreciate and enjoy.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 26 Feb 2015 14:05:08 GMT
Last edited by the author on 26 Feb 2015 14:20:36 GMT
Lindosland says:
I feel that that you have only given the 'politically correct' view of the film, and have left out the real valuable message, which is that Jackie, despite appearances to some people, was never truly happy, and that the reason for this lay in a powerful 'family nexus' which she at no point felt able to go against. Genius was expected of her, and she delivered, but deep down she knew that her life was not right for her. For me, and many viewers, this is the true tragedy of her life, not MS, which may well have been caused or exacerbated by the stress of her situation. Perhaps it is because I have lived a similar life that I am so moved by this situation, which you, and many others choose not to even acknowledge. I think that those who want to preserve the image of the 'genius struck down by terrible disease' may also be failing to understand the real nature of music - as a rather inadequate way of expressing feelings in a world where true feelings, for many, are forbidden because they are inconvenient and embarassing. Jackie's playing moved people because it came from the heart, because in playing Elgar she felt both his pain and her own. Re-enacting deep emotional pain without being able to speak of its source or bring it to an end is widely regarded as unhealthy by many therapists, and is at the root of psychoanalytic theory. R D Laing (a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst that the family did refer to) knew this better than most.

'Horns in on her husband' is misleading and an injustice I feel. Hilary's daughter Clare has said that her father was a 'serial adulterer'. There is evidence elsewhere that Hilary and Kiffer's lifestyle embraced the sexual liberation of the sixties in what was to some extent a commune setting. I think this fact is the one great omission from both book and film. This omission does not detract from the truth of what is portrayed, but I think its inclusion might have helped keep some viewers from viewing Jackies actions as quite so self-centred and shocking. In reality, what happened appears to have been more by mutual consent, with genuine intent on the part of all to help, than your review makes clear.
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